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How to Analyze and Amplify Your Nonprofit’s Average Donation Size


By Dara Daly

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Published July 3, 2024 Reading Time: 3 minutes

This blog was written by Dara Daly, who brings over a decade of experience in managing paid advertising campaigns for a diverse range of B2B and e-commerce companies. Dara is the Manager of Digital Marketing and SEO at Classy.

Understanding your supporter base’s average donation size isn’t about standardizing giving but rather optimizing your fundraising strategy to meet donors where they are. By offering real-time, personalized ask amounts for every donor who arrives on your donation forms, you can run giving campaigns that convert better and raise more.

However, amid this personalization, knowing where your donor base averages can be a powerful indicator of which programs or tactics you may need to focus on to grow your revenue and drive your mission forward.

Below, we explore how to calculate and analyze your average donation size and how to use this donor data to refine your fundraising approach.

Defining average vs. median donation amounts

To begin, understanding the nuances between average and median donation amounts is crucial for interpreting fundraising data accurately.

However, averages can be misleading. A significant major gift or other outliers can skew donor data, making it essential to look at your average and median donation amounts. To calculate the average donation amount, divide the total revenue by the total number of donations. In contrast, to calculate the median donation amount, sort all donation amounts and identify the middle point.

Why does this matter?

In recent years, reports have indicated a decline in everyday donors, leading to a potential skew in the average donation amount. This shift highlights the importance of understanding your donors’ demographics and how these impact your fundraising metrics.

If your strategy prioritizes major donors over everyday donors, you might expect your average donation amount to be higher. However, relying solely on the average can feed you inaccurate data. The median donation amount offers a more reliable baseline for understanding current donation levels, providing a clearer picture of your fundraising landscape.

How to effectively respond to gift size fluctuations

Fluctuations in your average donation amount, whether they trend upward or downward, can have a substantial impact on your total donation volume and overall fundraising strategy.

If you notice a shift toward more microtransactions, there’s no need to panic. Instead, view this as an opportunity to scale the number of people you drive to your nonprofit website. By focusing on increasing the volume of small and midsize gifts, you can mitigate the impact of lower individual donation amounts and maintain or even increase your total donation volume.

On the other hand, if your average donation amount is on the rise, but other key metrics are on the decline—such as the total number of donations or donor retention rates—it’s crucial to evaluate the long-term implications. This scenario may indicate that your strategy overly focuses on major gifts, potentially at the expense of engaging everyday donors.

While major gifts can provide substantial revenue, prioritizing them too heavily can lead to a decline in your donor pool and donor engagement over time.

Consider segmenting your donors based on their donation amounts to respond to these fluctuations effectively. Pulling reports to identify how many donations come in at each gift level allows you to analyze these shifts more comprehensively.

By understanding the giving patterns of different donor segments, you can tailor your marketing and fundraising efforts to resonate better with each group. This targeted approach can help you maintain a balanced donor base, maximize donor engagement, and grow your impact.

Calculating donation metrics to inform your decision-making

To effectively analyze donation data, start with these basic calculations:

  • Average donation amount = Total revenue / total number of donations
  • Median donation amount = Sort all donation amounts and find the middle point

Remember, while average donation amounts provide valuable insights, focusing on the individual needs and behaviors of your donors will help you build stronger, long-lasting relationships and drive greater impact for your cause.

So rather than accepting default ask amounts as standard practice, Classy’s Intelligent Ask Amounts solution helps nonprofits create a more effective donation experience, increase donation revenue, and avoid off-base appeals with amounts tailored to donors’ characteristics and donation history. Learn more about our fundraising intelligence.

Copy Editor: Ayanna Julien

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