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May 18, 2022
First-Time Donors Boosted Charitable Giving Last Year
Finding Donors

April 9, 2022 — First-time donors to nonprofits across the country helped boost charitable giving in 2021 by 2.7%, compared to 2020, which was a very strong year for fundraising, but the outlook for the rest of this year is questionable as the total number of donors to nonprofits dropped by 5.7% last year, according to a newly published report.

The Fourth Quarter Fundraising Report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), a collaboration among fundraising providers, researchers, analysts, associations, and consultants, based on input from 9,652 organizations, midsize and larger donors(those giving more than $500) remain stable and helped drive the strong top-line fundraising figures in 2021.

Donors who gave less than $500 in 2021, who accounted for 9.5% of all dollars raised, raised less money in 2021, compared to 2020.

According to the report, donor retention rates are projected to drop by 4% this year, compared to 2021.

New-donors are the only ones with positive retention rates, while retention of long-time donors is particularly weak and driving down overall retention rates, according to the report. For 2021, compared to 2020:

  • Retention of donors giving under $100 dropped 9.1%.
  • Retention of donors giving $101-$500 dropped 1.6%.
  • Retention of donors giving $500-$5,000 increased 2.1%.
  • Retention of donors giving $5,000-$50,000 dropped 3.6%.
  • Retention of donors giving more than $50,000 dropped 8.1%.

Perhaps because the coronavirus pandemic impacted virtually all types of nonprofits, organization size and organization cause mattered less to donors in 2021, compared to 2020. However, a decrease in large organizations funding and an increase in small organization funding in 2021 hints at a reversal of COVID-19 trends across organization size, the report noted.

Funds raised in 2021 differed by nonprofit sector. Environment and animal focused organizations saw an average 20.2% increase in fund raised, followed by arts, culture, and humanities nonprofits (5.6%), education (1.7%), and international/foreign affairs organizations (1.5%).

Human services experienced the largest average drop of 5.4%, followed by pubic, societal benefit organizations (down 3.0%), religion related organizations (down 2.0%), and health (down 1.9%).

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