Non-Profit Giving Slows in First Quarter

According to a recently released report, organizations in the Target Analytics Index of National Fundraising Performance generally underperformed in the first quarter of 2008 (January through March). Overall donors and revenue both declined across most of the sectors in the index.

Donors have been declining consistently for the past two and a half years; the index has not experienced positive donor growth since the U.S. Gulf Coast hurricanes in the fall of 2005.

In the first quarter of 2008, for the first time in two and a half years, overall revenue declined as well. Revenue fell -1.8% from Q1 2007 to Q1 2008.

However, revenue per donor has been steadily increasing for the past two years. This continued into the first quarter of 2008 as well. Revenue per donor grew 2.1% from Q1 2007 to Q1 2008, on top of 3.6% growth over the same period one year before.

Until now, increases in revenue per donor compensated for donor declines, allowing overall revenue to continue to grow. In the most recent quarter, however, continued revenue per donor growth could not make up for the donor decreases and prevent overall revenue from declining.

For most organizations, overall donor declines have been due primarily to declines in new donor acquisition.

Some numbers:

  • The number of new donors has declined 7.6 % over the past two years. (However, the rate of decline has slowed from 5.3% in the first quarter last year to 2.3% in this first quarter of 2008.)
  • Retention rates continued to fall with first-year donor retention dropping 6.6% in Q1 2008 over the same quarter a year before.
  • Reactivation rates declined 5.0% from Q1 2007 to Q1 2008.

The Index’s authors say the falling donor populations “may be due to a mix of factors including economic changes, a changing generational profile in the United States, changing attitudes of donors about giving, and a change in focus by fundraisers toward higher-dollar donors.

You can read a complete summary of the National Index findings here: Target_Index_Summary_q12008