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21 of the Most Interesting Data Points From Nonprofit Reports

By Will Schmidt

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

We recently wrote about how you can make the summer slump a more productive time for yourself and your organization. One of the recommendations we suggested was to read through the different data reports about fundraising and the social sector.

To help you get the ball rolling, we went through and dissected some of the most interesting nonprofit data and key findings. Below, you’ll find insights from:

Like good wine and food pairings, we include tips, free resources, and additional reading with each data point for how you can apply these interesting nonprofit data points to your own organization.

The State of the Sector

Charitable giving in the U.S. rose 0.7% to $427.71 billion from 2017 to 2018.
(Source: Giving USA 2019)

While there were some initial concerns around the tax changes that got signed in to law, overall giving still increased year over year. Since there are always so many nuances around trends and policies that impact the social sector, you should make it a priority to stay up to date on what’s happening. Kickoff your research efforts with the following blog posts:

Giving by individuals went down by 1.1%.
(Source: Giving USA 2019)

While overall giving increased, this decrease in individual giving underscores the need to retain donors. That is, if individuals are giving less, even if it’s a small sample size of people, you should do everything in your power to keep them engaged with your nonprofit from campaign to campaign. Whether you already have a robust donor retention strategy, or you’re just getting started, you should double down on your commitment to retention.

Giving by corporations went up 5.4% to $20.05 billion.
(Source: Giving USA 2019)

If you’re not prioritizing corporate partnerships, now is the time to start. Or you can double down and perfect your pitch to partner with bigger, more influential companies.

Consider all the ways a corporate partner can work with your organization beyond just writing a check. You can have them sponsor a Giving Tuesday matching gift period, sponsor major annual events, or create peer-to-peer campaigns for their staff to fundraise on your behalf.

Recurring Giving

Recurring donors are over 5x more valuable to you than one-time donors.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends)

While you always want to diversify your sources of fundraising revenue, recurring givers have a higher lifetime financial value than one-time donors. Make sure you have a dedicated recurring giving program in place that you can link directly to in marketing messages, emails, or social media posts.

Check out the following resources for tips on how to get your recurring giving program started:

Of all one-time donors who return to start a recurring gift, 25% go on to make another one-time gift as a future interaction.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Trends in Return Donor Behavior)

In addition to the value recurring givers provide with their monthly commitment, Classy platform data found that they also re-engage by giving additional one-time donations. After someone signs up as a recurring giver, you can and should be asking them to give again. Consider targeting them to support programs similar to the ones they initially committed to supporting.

75% of organizations don’t have a separate CTA for recurring donations on their home page.
(Source: The Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, by NextAfter and

Most nonprofit websites have calls to action to make a one-time donation or even to sign up as fundraisers. If you’re investing resources in your recurring giving efforts, add another call to action on your main page that links directly to your recurring giving program. It’s a simple step you can take to sign up more recurring givers who have a higher lifetime financial value for your nonprofit.

Only 14% of organizations prompted one-time donors to upgrade to a recurring donation.
(Source: The Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, by NextAfter and

Your donors have already demonstrated a commitment to your cause by choosing to make a donation, so don’t be afraid to ask if they want to upgrade to a monthly commitment. If this ask comes right before they complete the checkout process on their one-time gift, chances are they will still make a one-time donation if they aren’t interested in giving on a monthly cadence.

For example, if someone donates $100 annually, you could ask them to sign up as a recurring giver instead at $10 per month. This commitment would have a higher financial value of $120 over the course of the year. And remember, if you want a supporter to take a desired action, you have to ask.

77% of organizations didn’t offer a tangible benefit for recurring donors.
(Source: The Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, by NextAfter and

Apart from supporting your cause, why would someone want to sign up for your recurring giving program? To encourage people to commit to a recurring fit, you should provide a value proposition for what they will get out of their monthly commitment. Consider offering them exclusive incentives like branded swag, featuring them in newsletters, or sharing behind-the-scenes information and in-depth impact stories that the average donor doesn’t receive.

For further reading:


78% of nonprofits use social media as their top marketing channel—57% of traffic to Classy campaign pages comes from social media as well.
(Source: World-Changing Work: The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience) 

We know social media generates great engagement with supporters, but it can also drive a huge amount of traffic to your main website or fundraising campaign pages. Perform an audit of your social media strategy to find which channels are best for different metrics.

Then, prioritize communications on those channels for the desired impact—whether driving engagement, traffic, or expanding your brand’s reach. And if you’re not on any platforms it’s never too late to start a new account. Simply talk to your industry peers or do some research to find which channels work best for nonprofits.

Get more specifics on social media here:

74% of nonprofits use word of mouth marketing.
(Source: World-Changing Work: The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience)

People want recommendations about where to eat, what hotels to stay at, or even where they should donate their money. Empower your loyal supporters to spread the word about your mission and work with social media shares, testimonials about their experience working with you, or user-generated content.

69% of nonprofits use email marketing.
(Source: World-Changing Work: The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience)

Email is still one of the most popular marketing channels, so don’t be afraid to hit the gas and email your supporters regularly. It’s important you remain thoughtful in your approach and send messages with a specific purpose and goal.

Check out these blogs to level-up your email efforts:

Email drove 13% of all online revenue for nonprofits in 2018.
(Source: M+R Benchmarks 2019)

With email being such a powerful driver of online revenue, you need a robust strategy in place to capture your piece of the pie. Get creative with your subject lines, run A/B tests, or build a new nurture series that stewards donors to give more.

Only 1 in 5 organizations sent emails from a real person.
(Source: The Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, by NextAfter and

If you’re not sending emails from a real person, your messages may be landing in spam and promotion folders. Send your messages from a human with an email address that supporters can reply directly to—otherwise your appeals, impact stories, and newsletters may never see the light of day.

75% of organizations did not collect a phone number on their donation forms.
(Source: The Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study, by NextAfter and

NextAfter’s study found that asking for a phone number on a donation form did not decrease conversion rates, so include one on your donation page. Once you have it, set aside time to deliver quick thank you calls from your staff to show your gratitude and provide a delightful user experience for your donors.


53% of nonprofit employees who are extremely or somewhat satisfied in their current roles donate weekly, monthly, or yearly to the nonprofit where they work.
(Source: World-Changing Work: The Modern Nonprofit Professional’s Experience)

It’s simple: happy nonprofit employees support the organization where they work. Internal staff can be a great source to tap for donations, or they can easily help spread the word about your programs and campaigns. Create a culture that draws in top-tier talent, retains influential employees, and delights your staff on a daily basis.

94% of return donors gave another one-time donation as their second interaction.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Trends in Return Donor Behavior)

One time donations are valuable for your nonprofit, but what if you can make more of an impact on a second interaction beyond another one-time donation? This can be a prime touchpoint where you ask someone who is already committed to take their interaction with your organization even further.

Typical return donors will make a second donation 349 days after making their first donation.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Trends in Return Donor Behavior)

Some nonprofits will wait to re-engage donors until the one-year anniversary of their first gift. However, you have an opportunity to engage donors again sooner than this. This might be an email touchpoint where you encourage donors to come back to donate sooner, or even upgrade to a monthly recurring donation.

19% of return donors re-engage with nonprofits within the first three months after making their gift.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Trends in Return Donor Behavior)

While the 19% represents a somewhat small subset of your donors, you can still be proactive about reaching out soon after they make a gift. Steward them where you can with thank you notes, emails, or new opportunities to get involved with your nonprofit like volunteering or attending events.

Giving Tuesday

Organizations acquire 3 to 5 times more new donors on Giving Tuesday than a regular day.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends)

Attract as many donors as possible on Giving Tuesday by planning a powerhouse campaign. Whether you start your planning as early as January or you kick-off your campaign up later in the season, the important part is that it’s engaging and you work hard to retain the donors it brings in.

15% of donors acquired on Giving Tuesday give again before the next Giving Tuesday.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends)

Since some will give again before the next Giving Tuesday, and since some will give again before their one-year anniversary, you cans

Take the immediate opportunity to re-engage them for your year-end campaign, and then steward them throughout the year with email touchpoints, offers to participate in other events or campaigns, or opportunities to get involved on a more intimate level through volunteering.

For further reading:

Donors acquired on Giving Tuesday are 3 to 4 times more likely to become peer-to-peer fundraisers than donors acquired on December 31.
(Source: The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends)

Often, donors can fundraise more money than they can give out of pocket. For example, someone may not be able to give a one-time donation of $1,000. However, they could likely source 10, $100 donations from their networks.

Build a peer-to-peer campaign and invite them back to participate. Better yet, build a DIY fundraising program that empowers people to fundraise on your behalf at any time, for any reason.

These are only a few of the most interesting nonprofit data points, but they should serve as a strong foundation from which you can level-up your strategies, test new ideas, or strengthen your relationships with supporters. If you put any of these to good use, let us know how you’re making them work for you in the comments below.

The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019

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Request a Demo

Increase donations for your nonprofit and make tax season a breeze.

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