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Analyzing Your Fundraising Strategy

How effective your fundraising was in 2021? Did your organization adapt its fundraising strategies? Did you review 2020 and 2019 results to identify patterns and pinpoint successful activities?

If your answers are “no,” then you may want to reconsider and examine your data before you jump into 2022 with a flawed development plan based on nothing but assumptions and someone else’s goals.

Here are some ways to critically evaluate your past efforts to build an effective and durable plan for the new year:

Analyze Each Fundraising Effort

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) shares these guidelines on evaluating your fundraising costs as part of their Hot Topics series. This article is very helpful and worth reading because it points out that not all fundraising methods are the same. The cost to raise a dollar varies by activity as well as by organization. Nonprofit managers should develop internal policies and procedures for tracking fundraising costs and calculating return on investment (ROI) in fundraising. For example, one organization may include a percentage of the Executive Director’s salary as part of each fundraising activity, but another agency may not.

Calculate Donor Retention Rate

The average donor retention rate is around 40-45% across the U. S. nonprofit sector. To calculate your agency’s rate, divide the number of repeat donors this year by those who donated last year. For example, a nonprofit with 300 donors last year and 159 donors who gave again this year, would have a retention rate of 53%. What’s yours?

According to the (AFP) Fundraising Effectiveness Project, 2021 fundraising was slightly ahead of 2020 figures, and was influenced by new donor retention.

We all know that it’s cheaper to keep a donor than to cultivate a new one. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project results indicate that for every $6 gained in giving from new and upgraded donors, there are $5 lost due to lapsed and downgraded donors.

Increase Stewardship Efforts

My best advice is to make stewardship a priority so you can retain your loyal donors. How often do you let your donors know you are grateful for them? The process starts with a timely acknowledgement letter and continues with updates and frequent displays of gratitude. A best practice is to have seven touches (communications) between donor solicitations. These may include impact reports, handwritten notes, personalized emails, and phone calls.

If we don’t take time to review and analyze our past fundraising efforts, we cannot build a successful plan for 2022.

Next week I’ll share additional recommendations on building sustainable fundraising for YOUR organization.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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