Attracting, retaining donors remains a problem for nonprofits

A new survey of charitable giving shows although the not-for-profit sector received more donations in 2014, gaining and retaining donors is still a problem for many nonprofits. 

The results from the "2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report," compiled by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, echoes the same issues found in their report from the previous year. While Americans continue to give more, the amount of their gifts is still offset by lapsing donors and the absence of new givers.

Survey findings
Surveying more than 8,000 nonprofits, the report found for every $100 donation $95 was lost due to previous donors deciding not to give in 2014. The study found the not-for-profits received more than $3.6 billion last year in donations, but lost $3.4 billion after calculating lapsed donors and patrons who gave a smaller percentage than the year before.

Compared with last year's results - 43 percent - the donor retention rate remained the same, the study reported. This and 2013's donor retention rate is just one percentage point above the 10-year donor retention average. Nonprofits were able to keep more contributors on their donor rolls from leaving before the recession hit in 2007.

"In some ways, nonprofits are in a new world when it comes to post-recession giving levels and behavior," Elizabeth Boris, founding director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, said in a press release. "When the economy was strong, we worried less about retaining donors because new donors were easy to find. But it's far less expensive to retain existing donors than it is to identify and find new donors. The search for new donors is a costly burden for many charities."

What to do
According to the results from this year and comments from AFP officials, keeping donors engaged and retaining them is an issue that nonprofits face every year. The problem is a daily reality for not-for-profits trying to encourage donors to give more or reconnect with former contributors to find what nonprofits can do to bring them back into the fold.

This year's figures mean nonprofits must remain vigilant. In order to thrive, nonprofits need to find more innovative ways to inspire the public to support their cause and reinvigorate former donors to give. 

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