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Get FIT and Improve Your Fundraising: The FEP’s Fundraising Fitness Test

Resource Center - Foundation

Erik J. Daubert, MBA, ACFRE serves as an Affiliated Scholar with the Growth in Giving Initiative with the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at The Urban Institute.  He currently serves as Chair of the Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project Advisory Board. He will be giving a webinar on Nov. 18, “Growth in Giving/Fundraising Effectiveness Project.”

One of the most important issues in fundraising right now is donor retention, and I believe that both the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and the Growth in Giving Initiative (GiGi) contain great secrets and insights into this issue and how to improve the philanthropic sector for your organization.

How do you start? Let’s begin with the newest Fundraising Fitness Test that you can take at the Fundraising Effectiveness Project website (  By using this resource, you can compare your nonprofit organization’s performance to one of the most important benchmarks that you can have—yourself! 

The indicators used in the Fundraising Fitness Test allow you to see how your organization is doing on topics ranging from donor retention to gift retention to upgrading donors and more!  You can also, using an appendix, compare yourself against other nonprofits in similar sectors (such as the arts, human services, etc.)   The goal of using this information is for you to understand all of the amazing things that are happening behind you raising (or not raising) more money in your fundraising efforts.

Second, once you understand what is happening with your specific donors and their gifts, there are lots of great things you can do with—whatever budget you have—to positively affect your philanthropic efforts.  By understanding and working to communicate with your donors in EFFECTIVE and TIME APPROPRIATE ways, you can maximize your RETURN ON INVESTMENT in terms of time and money.  Doing things like writing hand written notes, making well placed and timely phone calls, and investing staff and volunteer time in making personal visits can really pay off with your donors and the gifts they make to your organization.

Third, a goal without a plan is just a wish!  Take stock of your resources (human, staff, volunteer, monetary, etc.) and then put together a plan to make the best use of them to grow and maintain your donors.  By creating a plan outlining the best uses of your resources—no matter how large or small—you can improve your donor and gift retention.   Here are some things to think about:

  • Are you making your first time donors feel special?  Donor retention of this group is only in the 20% range, meaning that 4 out of 5 of these donors won’t be back next year—unless you make them feel valued and special!
  • What are you doing to deepen your relationships with your repeat donors, large and small?  Each donor segment ($100 - $299, $500 - $999, etc.) should have a donor and gift retention plan associated with it.  If someone gives $100 to your organization, you should have a plan for what happens with that donor within 48 hours and beyond. Your goal is to thank, report back, and get them to like you even more than when they made their gift last time, which leads us to…
  • Upgrades!  Each year, you should be looking at the roughly 20 percent of your donors who are ready to upgrade in any given year.  Who are these donors?   How can you get them to WANT to give more?  What are you doing to deepen your relationship with them and them with you?

Want to learn more about how the FEP and GiGi can help your organization? We will be talking about these issues and more during the November 18th webinar so I do hope you will consider learning more about this outstanding FREE AFP resource. 

By first understanding your own situation and then implementing a plan around making the best possible future for your nonprofit and your donors, you can change your world and the world around you for the better!

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