Small, Midsize Nonprofits Report 60 Percent Individual Donor Retention

On average, small and midsize nonprofit organizations raised 34 percent of their revenue from individuals and retained 61 percent of those donors in 2015, a report from nonprofit consultancy Third Space Studio finds.

Based on a survey of 119 nonprofits with annual revenue under $2 million, the Individual Donor Benchmark Report 2015 found that the smallest organizations (revenue under $200,000) raised a larger share of their revenue, some 45 percent, from individual donors than the 30 percent from individual donors raised by midsize organizations (between $1 million and $1.999 million). The report also found that 69 percent of the surveyed charities saw an increase in revenue from individual donors, with an average increase of nearly 90 percent, while 31 percent saw declines averaging 14 percent. In addition, the year-to-year individual donor retention rate in 2015 ranged narrowly from 59 percent to 62 percent by organization size, with little difference when filtered by number of donors or the availability of membership or recurring gift programs.

Supported by Ravela Insights, DonorPerfect, Little Green Light, AGH Strategies, Network for Good, NationBuilder, Idealware, and the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, the survey found that recurring gifts accounted for 14 percent of the surveyed charities' revenue, with an average gift size of $754 — significantly more than the overall average gift of $533. And while online giving rose 130 percent in 2015, with more than a third of donors choosing to give online, those gifts accounted for only a fifth of the dollars raised, with the average online gift just $219 — less than half the overall average gift and less than a quarter of the average offline gift.

According to survey respondents, the biggest challenges to implementing individual donor strategies were limitations on time, followed by staff support, cost, and knowledge and expertise.

"Individual Donor Benchmark Report 2015." Third Space Studio Report 08/01/2016.