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Fundraising Effectiveness Project

AFP research
August 28, 2012

The goal of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) and the emerging Growth in Giving Initiative (GiGi) is to help grow philanthropy's share of the GDP. FEP and GiGi pursue this goal by providing nonprofits with tools for tracking and evaluating their annual growth in giving. Growth in giving is the net of gains in giving minus losses in giving. Nonprofits raise more money by investing more money in growth-oriented fundraising strategies that both increase gains and reduce losses. The FEP is focused on "effectiveness" (maximizing growth in giving) rather than "efficiency" (minimizing costs). FEP conducts an annual survey, provides useful growth in giving performance measurement tools and publishes gain(loss) statistics in a yearly report through a partnership between AFP, The Urban Institute and  participating donor software firms. The FEP and GiGi resources support growth-oriented fundraising programs.

Growth in Giving Initiative (GiGi) Measurement Tools

In collaboration with PSI/Adventist, the FEP has developed the downloadable Excel-based GiGi Fundraising Fitness Test that allows nonprofits to measure and evaluate their fundraising programs against a set of over 100 performance indicators by five donor giving levels. In addition, the seven GiG Reports in the downloadable Excel-based FEP Growth-in-Giving (GiG) Reports template (revised and simplified) provide concise, yet informative pictures of fundraising gains and losses-growth in giving and attrition - in a simple, reader-friendly format that the executive staff and board members can understand.  Click here to go to the Growth in Giving Initiative (GiGi) Measurement Tools webpage.

Basic Concept

The basic FEP and GiGi concept is that bottom-line growth in annual giving is the net of gains in giving from new, recapture and upgraded donors minus losses in giving by downgraded, lapsed-new and lapsed-repeat donors.  And, nonprofits raise more money by increasing gains in giving and reducing losses in giving.  How else?



FEP Reports and Articles

2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report
(Sept. 16, 2013) For the first time in five years, charity respondents to the annual Fundraising Effectiveness Project survey saw positive gains in giving, but still continued to lose donors faster than they gained them. 

  • Click here to download the 2013 FEP report in PDF.

2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report
(Aug. 28, 2012) The 2012 FEP report incorporates data from the 3,184 responses with 2010-2011 results.  As a group, the organizations raised $2,048,749,231 in 2009 and $2,049,794,709 in 2011 for an overall increase of $1,045,478 for an overall, bottom-line, year-to-year growth in giving ratio of 0.1 percent.  Further, gains of $1.1 billion in gifts were offset by losses of $1.1 billion through gift attrition. This means that every $100 gained in 2011 was offset by $100 in losses through gift attrition.  Growth in the number of donors showed a negative gain/loss pattern where gains of 1.3 million donors were offset by losses of -1.4 million donors.  This means that there was a negative net decrease of (86,437) in donors and every 100 donors gained in 2011 was offset by 107 in lost donors through attrition.  

AFP Planning to Keep Your Donors Workshop
(Aug. 14, 2012) The AFP Planning to Keep Your Donors Workshop is now available for all AFP chapters to offer to members.  The workshop is based on data collected via the Fundraising Effectiveness Project.  The annual survey indicates that nonprofits are losing nearly as many donors and gifts as they gain each year.  

2011 FEP Donor Retention Supplement
(Nov. 18, 2011) The Fundraising Effectiveness Project has conducted a special donor retention and attrition analysis using the FEP annual survey database.  The "2011 FEP Donor Retention Supplement" PDF can be downloaded by clicking here (also available in Word on request to FEP@afpnet.org).  Key donor retention and attrition findings include:

  • Overall donor retention was 41 percent in 2010 (Median).  That is, only 41 percent of 2009 donors made repeat gifts to participating nonprofits in 2010.
  • Overall donor attrition in 2010 was 59 percent.  That is, 59 percent of 2009 donors did not give again to participating nonprofits in 2010.
  • Repeat donor retention was 70 percent. 
  • New donor retention was only 27 percent.

Other important donor retention and attrition findings will be found in the FEP supplement.

 The FEP Donor Software Workgroup
(Sept.. 20, 2011) A critical element in the success of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) has been the cooperation and support of the members of the AFP Donor Software Workgroup. The Workgroup assisted with the design of the FEP survey, and all of the firms have developed "all-electronic" software modules that eliminate the need for their clients to key the fundraising performance data manually into the survey instrument.  

Nonprofits Retained More Donors in 2010, According to 2011 FEP Report
(Aug. 30, 2011) Nonprofit organizations in the U.S. were better at retaining donors and shored up their net losses in donations in 2010, according to the latest report of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP). Read more | Download the 2011 Fundraising Effectiveness Report

Plugging the Leaks: Losses Now Outpacing Gains in Latest FEP Study
(Aug. 17, 2010) Are you missing out on increased income growth year to year because of donors who are falling through the cracks? Research shows that keeping tabs on your losses, as well as your gains, could mean the difference between simply staying on course and blazing ahead.
Read more | Download the 2010 Fundraising Effectiveness Report

AFP 2009 Fundraising Effectiveness Report Released
(September 2009) A new report can help charities identify areas of improvement in their fundraising, such as donor retention, by comparing gains and loss in a number of different categories.

AFP Study of Fundraising Effectiveness Gets Boost from Donor Software Firms
(May 25, 2009) Participate in the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and find out how your organization compares to others.

Donor Retention Key to Fundraising Success
(Nov. 10, 2008) The second Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) report underscores the findings of the first study-namely that donor retention remains the biggest stumbling block for most charity's fundraising efforts. 

Donor Retention Trumps Acquisition, Study Notes
(Aug. 18, 2008) "My organization's fundraising revenues are growing year to year ... so my fundraising program is successful, right?" Perhaps, but it is just as critical to devise a plan to trim your losses over the long-term, a new study by AFP shows.   

First Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report Published
(July 2, 2007) A new report can help charities identify areas of improvement in their fundraising, such as donor retention, by comparing gains and loss in a number of different categories.

 


 

Additional FEP Resources

FEP Gain/Loss Performance Analyzer
With a downloadable Excel-based Gain-Loss Performance Analyzer, respondents to the FEP surveys can analyze and compare their gains and losses in amount of gifts and number of donors by gain/loss categories based on the growth-in-giving performance data they submitted.

Donor Retention Resources
Books, articles, audiotapes and links to help you find the best information available on donor retention and donor attrition.

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