April 1, 2020
Recurring Nonprofit Donors Are More Valuable than Their Gifts

May 14, 2019 — The typical time between first donation and second donation is 349 days, but 19% of nonprofit donors return within just three months and 29% within six months, setting the stage to create meaningful donor relationships, a newly completed analysis of nonprofit giving shows.

According to The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019, a report developed by Classy, an online and mobile fundraising platform for nonprofits, based on data from more than 15,000 campaigns, almost one million transactions, and about 4,000 recurring plans:
  • Peer-to-peer fundraiser retention is just as crucial as donor retention.

    Return peer-to-peer fundraisers typically raise over twice as much as one-time fundraisers. Furthermore, on average, fundraisers are almost three times more valuable than one-time donors. While nonprofits are continuously concerned about donor churn, these findings prove that acquiring and retaining fundraisers should be top of mind too.

    However, despite providing substantially more value, only 14% of fundraisers returned to create new peer-to-peer fundraising pages within the two-year timeframe analyzed by the report, further revealing the opportunity for nonprofits to better nurture these valuable supporters.

  • 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. 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.

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