Research & Reports

Early 2023 Fundraising Results Reinforce Diverse Strategy Urgency

Current & Prospect Donor Research Strategies: Benchmarks, Prospect Research, Research Reports
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While large donors drove marginal growth in giving dollars throughout 2021 and much of 2022, their stability has begun to erode. According to FEP’s latest quarterly data, a decrease in donors and dollars given was evident across all donor types in Q1 2023, with major donors causing an outsized decline in dollars and donor retention. Paired with a sharp drop in dollars given by new donors, these outcomes set the stage for compounded challenges for the sector throughout 2023.   

The full FEP Q1 2023 report is available here.   

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) is a collaboration among fundraising data providers, researchers, analysts, associations, and consultants to empower the sector to track and evaluate trends in giving. The project offers one of the only views of the current year’s fundraising data in aggregate to provide the most recent trends for guiding nonprofit fundraising and donor engagement. The FEP releases quarterly findings on those giving trends, released both via downloadable reports at and in a free online dashboard.

FEP Q1 2023 Report Key Takeaways 

  • Over the last ten years, the stability of donors who contributed over $5K drove a 69% increase in total donations. Now, these major donors are also demonstrating significant decline, donating nearly 10% less in Q1 2023. As these donors account for nearly three quarters of total dollars donated, their decline will amplify volatility and uncertainty for charitable organizations in 2023. 
  • While total new donors continue to decline, donor retention has also shown significant weakness at the beginning of 2023. Retention decreased across all donor categories in Q1, with recaptured donor retention falling almost 20% from an already low level.  
  • The weakness in donor retention was compounded by a steep drop in new donors and dollars given by new donors, creating a troubling paradigm for charitable organizations. New donor counts fell by nearly 20% and new donors gave 34% less in Q1, reinforcing sector reliance on long-standing donors (though this group also declined by 5%).

With retention, dollars given, and number of donors on the decline across all groups in Q1, the charitable sector will face strong headwinds for the rest of the year. However, with US inflation cooling, there is a real opportunity for organizations to position themselves for growth in 2023.   

“The sector’s over-reliance on large donors has hit a critical stage,” says Woodrow Rosenbaum, Chief Data Officer of GivingTuesday. “With major donors and donations now declining along with all other giving groups, trends are down across the board. But there is still an opportunity to create positive momentum and growth in 2023. Swift adoption of diversified fundraising strategies and broad engagement of grassroot givers can help ensure sector stability through the rest of the year while creating a stronger base for future cultivation.”   

Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, the president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, agrees. “These results are a continuation of a troubling trend, but the fundraising community is aware of the challenges and prepared to adapt their strategies to encourage broader engagement with donors at all levels. This is an opportunity for our profession to evaluate our current processes and build a more diverse and inclusive donor base, setting our organizations up for future success.”

Qgiv Joins FEP Data Providers 

We’re excited to announce that Qgiv has joined the FEP as our newest data provider. Their history as an online fundraising software provider and experience with multi-channel fundraising strategies brings more actionable insight to the project, increases dataset fidelity, and further improves reporting integrity.    
“At Qgiv, we understand that data is the backbone of effective decision-making. By contributing to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, we aim to equip nonprofits with the knowledge they need to build more sustainable revenue streams and overcome the negative trends the industry is facing,” says Todd Baylis, CEO of Qgiv, Inc. “Fundraisers must act now to diversify their donor base and fundraising strategies in order to build a foundation for future success. Among our clients, those who have experienced fundraising success in Q1 2023 have implemented tactics like peer-to-peer fundraising to acquire new donors and offer giving plans to keep generosity affordable.” 
FEP reports continue to be made possible by the generous support of six additional collaborating data providers: Bloomerang, Classy, Community Brands, DonorPerfect, Keela, and NeonOne. FEP’s partner network also includes data analysis and additional support from DataLake Nonprofit Research and Bonterra. We welcome all giving platforms to join our efforts and increase our data coverage, enhancing the accuracy and accessibility of our efforts to provide measured analysis to the social sector.   

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project    
The Fundraising Effectiveness Project publishes quarterly and annual reports that examine key fundraising metrics, serving as a benchmark for nonprofit executives, development staff and researchers. The Fundraising Effectiveness Project and the Growth in Giving database are both administered by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy and The GivingTuesday Data Commons.

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