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Gather the diamonds hiding in your data

Written By: Pete Ward on January 15, 2018


Most non-profit organizations have incredible untapped potential within their data. If harnessed effectively, your data will reveal patterns, correlations and other insights that help you to:

1) Identify sustainable and efficient revenue growth streams

2) Target fundraising efforts to improve giving yields; and

3) Personalize the giving experience for new and existing supporters that increases donor loyalty and engagement.


Your data provides the most valuable insights when results are measured over time and against other variables such as the performance in previous years or your organizational goals.

As fundraisers, the bulk of your insights will be gathered by evaluating the results of campaigns against a carefully selected set of benchmarks.

By determining benchmarks, your organization has solid information to rank your most significant donor acquisition and cultivation opportunities, tied to clear expectations of ROI. Evaluating your campaign performance against these benchmarks also allows you to look forward and develop multi- year revenue growth models supported by a clear rationale.


Types of Benchmarks

Some of the most valuable insights come from benchmarks such as expected response rates, average gift rates, and income to cost ratio. They can be based on key measures across the donor lifecycle, the costs to acquire new donors, expected long term value, second gift conversion, rates, renewal rates, lapsed reactivation, and donor moves across portfolios (i.e. from mass to middle to major and back again).


Hospital benchmarking has been an area which Blue North has seen great value for our clients. We have worked with both community and research hospitals, developing campaigns and donor lifecycle benchmarks. 

Here are a few highlights to help illustrate the value that data insight can offer your organization:

Topline (Mass):


Average Giving per Donor per year

$77 to $94

Average Gift

$56 to $69

Average Gifts per Donor per year

1.3 to 1.4

Annual Giving:




4-Year LTV*:

$210 to $214

Second Gift Rate (24 months)

45% to 62%

Renewal & Reactivation** (Mass):


Multi-Year Renewal Rate:

68% to 74%

First Year Renewal Rate:

36% to 39%

Reactivated Renewal Rate:

42% to 45%

1-Year Lapsed Reactivation Rate:

22% to 29%


Most organizations evaluate new donor acquisitions based on their cost to acquire a donor. But a file grows in two ways: by adding new donors and keeping existing ones. As donor acquisition cost is an essential measurement, it should be complemented with measuring long-term value to assess prospect quality and determine the return on your acquisition investment. Value is determined by looking at all gifts subsequent to the first gift, including upsell and cross-sell giving. 

In determining long-term value, renewal and reactivation rates are measured by looking at the following donor segments:

  • First-Year Donor: A donor who gave their first gift in the previous year and gave in the current year – the first-year renewal rate is the percentage of donors who gave their first gift in the previous year that gave in current year.
  • Multi-Year Donor: A donor who has given in the previous year and the year prior to that – the multi-year donor rate is the percentage of multi-year donors who gave in the current year.
  • Reactivated Donor: A reactivated donor is a donor who has given in the previous year, after not giving in the year before that, but had previously given.
  • 1-Year Lapsed Donor: A donor who has not given in the previous year but has given in the prior year – the 1-year lapsed reactivation rate is the percentage of 1-year lapsed donors who gave in the current year.

These are just a few examples of factors your organization should be paying attention to in order to ensure your file is being nurtured and optimized for growth.

Interested in learning more about what your data can do for you?

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