Survey Links Fundraising Results to Annual Campaigns

Charitable organizations in the U.S. and Canada are more likely to raise funds successfully when they have a formal, annual fundraising drive, according to survey results released by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative. This is some of the first research to look at how annual funds are conducted and the role the annual fund plays in helping an organization reach fundraising goals.

The organizations with a formal annual fund drive were 20 percentage points more likely to be on track in 2013 to meet their fund raising goals (77 percent on track versus 57 percent of those without an annual fund). This finding held even after taking budget size into account.

Among the 42 percent of organizations that offered donor benefits, the most common was invitation to special “donor-only” events. Far less frequent were commemorative items such as plaques or pins; privileges such as parking or concierge service; communications such as donor newsletters; or access to organizational leadership or “backstage” activities.

The survey asked about donor renewal rates and about the percentage of annual fund donors that “upgraded,” or increased their gift over the prior year. Organizations were highly likely to be on track to meet fundraising goals in 2013 if they had renewal rates above 50 percent and/or upgrade rates of 5 percent and above.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys two times a year. The current report and prior reports from the NRC are available at

This survey was conducted online in August and September 2013 about fundraising results from the first half of 2013 compared with 2012 and about annual fund drives. The 945 respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error, as it is not a random sample of the population studied. Reported results are statistically significant using chi-square analysis.