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Gratitude for Data and the FEP

Posted by Ben Miller on 11/2017
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Thanksgiving is upon us, a time of year when we reflect upon those things in our lives that we are grateful for. From a nonprofit professional standpoint, I’d like to give thanks to The Growth in Giving’s Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP.)

When I first started working with the FEP group, I was brought in - as many in the group were before me - by Bill Levis. You may not know Bill, but you should. With his work on the development of the form 990 in 1981, as founding director of the NCCS, or his work creating the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, Bill Levis helped bring transparency, accountability, and performance metrics to the nonprofit sector.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project now consists of these Donor Software firms: Bloomerang; ClearView; DonorPerfect; eTapestry; and Neon. It’s an all-volunteer effort and, in addition to these donor software firms: the AFP; the Urban Institute; the Philanthropic Services for Institutions; DataLake; Concordia University of NY; The Do Good Institute; and DonorTrends, all are chipping in for the greater good.

It’s incredibly impressive that we’ve been able to pull together the largest database of its kind, reporting back to the sector real time benchmarks with an all-volunteer effort. Any nonprofit can now go to and download a treasure trove of industry benchmarks, white papers, tools, and webinars. The FEP has also begun reporting quarterly statistics. The most recent third quarter report shows that overall giving in the industry is down 4% from where it was last year and that this decline is related to donors giving $1,000 or more. We can also see that new donors and retaining new donors from last year is a major problem facing the industry. We’ve discussed these issues before, but it was always anecdotal. 

So what do we do about losing ground with our most valuable donors, losing the ability to bring in new donors, and retaining current donors?

Well, thankfully the FEP provides a wealth of resources and tools to help you figure out your organization’s health, as well as what you can do to improve it. For example, there’s a free Fundraising Fitness Test that anyone can use. Run your numbers. See how your major donors are doing, check on your new donors, and check retention - all for free.

At DonorTrends, we’ve built our business around the utilization of data to improve fundraising performance. Whether it’s tying your investment in retention to the expected return on that investment, enabling organizations to make decisions on the audience to include in a campaign, or any other number of factors that impact revenue and retention - the best use of your data is critical to how we help you. So naturally, when I discovered this group of volunteers focused on illuminating the nonprofit sector with data and analytics, I was immediately interested. And now I and my colleagues am very thankful that the Fundraising Effectiveness Project is shining a light on the data that’s needed to improve fundraising performance.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and may your numbers always be going in the direction you need.

Topics: Donor Retention, Fundraising Strategies, Retention, Fundraising Effectiveness Project, FEP, Major Donors

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