Aging Donors, Staff Turnover Hurts Fundraising

Greater than half (54 percent) of fundraising organizations polled have not been able to increase the overall percentage of revenue from fundraising during the past three years. An aging donor base and turnover among fundraising staffs pose further challenges to come.

Asset and investment management company SEI surveyed 253 organizations large and small, 77 percent of which actively fundraise. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents predicted that donor retention levels will remain at least at 41 percent. Smaller organizations, with donor bases of $25 million or less, were far more confident (77 percent) than those with donor bases of $1 billion or above (40 percent).

Despite this confidence, almost half (47 percent) of respondents think that the retirement of Baby Boomers will reduce donations and 63 percent of respondents do not believe that they have strong programs in place to attract young donors. The survey goes on to cite a 2013 Blackbaud study that showed that Baby Boomers and older adults make up 69 percent of total giving.

Future turnover among donors is met with current turnover among fundraising staffs. The vast majority (91 percent) or organizations with six or more fundraisers have seen turnover in the past 12 months. Even the smallest staffs, those with two or fewer members, are subject to year-to-year turbulence with 49 percent seeing change in the last 12 months. Colleges and universities have been particularly susceptible to turnover, according to the survey. More than half (55 percent) of private colleges and universities have seen turnover in the past six months, while 68 percent of public colleges and universities have seen changes in staff.

Other key findings from the report include:

* Despite confidence in donor retention, greater than three-in-five organizations with fundraising revenues of $50 million or less has seen stagnant or decreasing revenues. Organizations with between $101 million and $300 million in revenue have been the most successful, with 57 percent seeing increases;
* A slight majority of organizations able to increase revenues (51 percent) have only been able to do so by 5 percent or less; and,
* Donor-advised funds have not quite caught on. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents do not utilize them, though seven-in-10 of those that do believe that they have increased overall charitable giving.