Study: Orgs With Annual Funds Meet Fundraising Goals

July 14, 2014       Zach Halper      

Nonprofits that have an annual fund are more likely to meet their fundraising goals, according to a new study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC).

Released today, the study purports to be one of the first to look at how annual funds are conducted and the role annual funds – defined as a broad-based effort to raise funds for the year’s operating budget – play in helping an organization reach fundraising goals. The report is based on the results of NRC’s bi-annual online survey and completed by 945 respondents in the U.S. and Canada.

According to Eva Aldrich, CFRE, president and CEO of CFRE International (and NRC member), the findings “suggests that organizations focusing primarily on major gifts, without also having an annual fund campaign, might be at risk of missing their fundraising goals in the long-run.”

Organizations with a formal annual fund drive were especially ahead of the curve, according the NRC study. These groups were 20 percent more likely to be on track to meet their 2013 fundraising goals (77 percent vs. 57 percent) than those without. This finding continued to hold true even when taking budget size into consideration.

For the larger organizations ($1 million or more in expenditures) responding to the survey, those with gift clubs were even more likely to meet their fundraising goals. Specifically, 83 percent of those with gift clubs were on track compared to 41 percent of those without a gift club. The difference in smaller organizations (less than $1 million in expenditures) was not statistically significant according to Tom Pollack, senior research associate and program director at the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.

Among the 42 percent of organizations that offered donor benefits, the most common was invitation to special “donor-only” events. Far less frequent were commemorative items such as plaques or pins; privileges such as parking or concierge service; communications such as donor newsletters; or access to organizational leadership or “backstage” activities.

Other key findings from the NRC study include:

  • Organizations were highly likely to be on track to meet fundraising goals in 2013 if they had renewal rates above 50 percent and/or upgrade rates of 5 percent and above.
  • Organizations with 5 percent or higher share of annual fund donors who give more (upgrade) are more likely to be on track for meeting fundraising goals. Specifically, 63 percent were on track to meet their goals.

You can download the full report by visiting