Waning Donor Numbers Could Prove a “Huge” Problem For Organizations

Despite more dollars raised, a new report shows fewer people gave in 2018. That could portend disaster unless fundraisers make changes now.
Waning Donor Numbers Could Prove a "Huge" Problem For Organizations

Guest Author: Rasheeda Childress, AssociationsNow

Despite more dollars raised, a new report shows fewer people gave in 2018. That could portend disaster unless fundraisers make changes now.

Fundraising often plays a big role in a nonprofit’s overall financial health. A new report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project indicates that despite more total dollars given in 2018, danger could lie ahead.

“One of the things is—and I think people really need to be focusing on this—donor retention. We are losing lots of donors,” says Michael Nilsen, vice president of communications and public policy for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, one of the groups that sponsors the FEP. “This is a huge thing.”

It’s huge because effective fundraising relies on small donors, according to Nilsen. Unfortunately, the FEP 2018 Fourth Quarter Report shows that while the total money raised was up by 1.6 percent, the total number of people giving was down by 4.5 percent. Fewer people giving is a death knell for fundraising.

“We think of giving as a pyramid, and as you cultivate people up, there are fewer of them, but more major donors,” Nilsen says. “We’re going to have a problem if you’re depending on just these large donors.”

Because the idea is to convince smaller donors to become larger donors, it is important to have many individual donors, even if the amounts of money they give are small. “There are people who donate $50 or a $100 every year, and then they die and leave half a million in the will,” Nilsen says.

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