Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report Proves Nonprofits Should Focus on Donor Retention in 2013

Blackbaud’s 2013 Charitable Giving Report (published yesterday) shows that small nonprofits, with annual total fundraising less than $1 million, grew their fundraising 7.3% compared to 2011.

These small guys blew away the large nonprofits who only grew 0.3%!

Five key observations from the 2012 Charitable Giving Report:

  1. Overall giving grew less than 2%. A down economy continues to challenge fundraising efforts for all size organizations.
  2. Online giving grew 11% in 2012, particularly in the area of disaster recovery. Hurricane Sandy was one of the biggest.
  3. Online fundraising accounted for 7% of all donations in 2012, which was up from 2011. Online fundraising is still a small slice of the pie for most nonprofits.
  4. Small nonprofits grew the most for overall giving (7.3%), but medium organizations grew the most for online giving.
  5. Giving was flat throughout 2012, but spiked around hurricane Sandy.

Key observations by sector

Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report Proves Nonprofits Should Focus on Donor Retention in 2013

  1. Giving to religious organizations grew by 6.1% and this helped to lift overall giving as this sector receives the largest share of charitable dollars in the United States.
  2. Education institutions also had a positive year with 1.9% growth in fundraising compared to 2011. These two sectors combine for 45% of charitable giving in the US.
  3. Arts and culture, as well as environment and animal welfare organizations were the only other sectors to experience fundraising growth in 2012.

Best sectors in online fundraising

Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report Proves Nonprofits Should Focus on Donor Retention in 2013
Education and public / society organizations grew their online fundraising the most in 2012 with an increase of over 17% – the largest growth rate for the second consecutive year.

Three Focus Areas for 2013:

If the trends over the past four years continue in 2013, charitable giving won’t grow significantly.

This means focusing on donor retention and finding innovative to acquire new donors without wasting money.

Here’s a three-step action plan for success in 2013:

  1. Share accountability for fundraising results throughout the organization. Come up with creative ideas that give everyone an opportunity to take ownership for retaining donors in a way that feels natural, empowered, and uses each persons unique talents.
  2. Leverage new fundraising technology. If your website sucks, start there. Then move on to developing smarter email marketing. Only then should you start thinking about that cool Facebook app.
  3. Create colossal content. Never forget that your “competition” is engaging your donors everyday with emotionally compelling messages. At the same time, your donors are getting better at tuning out messages that are boring. This means you have to get better at grabbing and keeping your donor’s attention in innovative and remarkable ways.

What will you do in 2013 to retain more donors?

Learn how one nonprofit increased their online fundraising by 1,400%!


Learn the tools, tactics, messaging, and website tweaks that created thier explosive result!


  1. Great observations, John. I particularly like the first of your three-step action plan. By allowing everyone in an organization to take responsibility and ownership of fundraising results, and by sharing credit across all departments when there is success, an organization not only retains donors but staff as well.