Classy has released its second annual report, The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019, which features online and mobile fundraising trends via the company’s proprietary platform data. The 2019 report explores the patterns and behaviors exhibited by a critical cohort of donors—specifically those who make an initial one-time donation to organization and then return to re-engage with that same organization.
In order to highlight patterns in supporter behavior up to two years after a first donation, the 2019 report leverages data from both 2017 and 2018, spanning nearly 1 million transactions, over 15,000 campaigns, and almost 4,000 recurring plans from organizations ranging in size.
In addition to helpful data points, the report equips nonprofits with actionable insights they can use to assess their online fundraising strategies, including a free nonprofit benchmarks worksheet covering key online fundraising metrics.
“Our customers found the data in last year’s report to be useful in driving their fundraising strategies forward, so we decided to make this an annual endeavor,” said Dr. Ben Cipollini, Director of Data Science at Classy. “As an industry, we’re often hyper-focused on donor churn—whether a first-time donor stays with an organization or not—and while we believe in the importance of that focus, we wanted to use this opportunity to bring attention to the supporters who do come back. By examining the behavioral patterns of donors who re-engage with an organization, we’re hoping we can help nonprofits better nurture those supporters and keep them coming back time and again.”
Led by Classy’s data science team, The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019 unearths new insights about critical topics such as peer-to-peer fundraiser retention, the additive value of recurring donors, and opportunities for more targeted donor engagement.
Key findings from the report include:
- Recurring donors are even more valuable than their monthly gifts: One-quarter (25%) of all one-time donors who returned to start a recurring plan went on to make another one-time gift as one of their future interactions. This unique behavior adds to the already-known value of recurring donors, who are over five times more valuable than one-time donors, according to the 2018 report. Ultimately, recurring donors are more than just a passive, automatic transaction—they actively give on top of their subscriptions, proving their investment in an organization’s cause.
- Many—but not all—return donors wait until their one-year anniversary: The median number of days between a person’s first and second donations is 349, revealing a pattern for repeat support around a donor’s one-year anniversary—likely due to the reminder they may receive from a nonprofit at this year-mark. However, not all return donors wait that long for a second connection, with 19% of donors coming back within the first 90 days (roughly three months) from their initial donation, and 29% returning to donate again in the first 180 days (roughly six months). This may be a smaller subset, but it represents a large opportunity for nonprofits to reach back out much sooner than a full year later.
- One-time donors become recurring givers faster than they donate again: Typical one-time donors who become recurring activate their recurring plan 214 days after their first donation—4.5 months sooner than when a typical return donor gives again. In fact, the chance that a donor activates a recurring plan after the one-year anniversary of their first donation becomes slimmer as more time goes on. This points to an opportunity for nonprofits to encourage one-time donors to become recurring immediately or soon after their first donation.
GivingTuesday + Returning Donors
GivingTuesday continues to be a monumental opportunity for nonprofits to acquire new donors. Classy nonprofits acquired 4x more donors on GivingTuesday than on a typical day of the year.
However, Classy wanted to know: do return donors who made their first donation on GivingTuesday (Nov 28, 2017), come back on a different timeline than other donors? For the most part, the answer was no: those who gave for their first time on GivingTuesday returned to give a second one-time donation typically 364 days after their first donation - a slight delay as those who give any other day of the year (347 days). This may indicate that these donors are choosing to re-engage specifically on the following GivingTuesday. This is interesting to note for nonprofits participating in GivingTuesday, because while GivingTuesday donors are thought to exhibit markedly different behavior than other donors, they actually follow a similar pattern when it comes to the timing between the first the second donation (roughly one-year anniversary timeline behavior).
In terms of other follow-up interactions, of return donors who became recurring donors, those whose first interaction with an organization was on GivingTuesday became recurring donors faster than those whose interactions were outside of GivingTuesday (median 194 days and 215 days respectively). For those who became fundraisers again, return donors whose first interaction was on GivingTuesday re-engaged sooner than donors whose first interaction was outside of GivingTuesday (median 214 and 301 days respectively).