2017 Was a Banner Year for Sustainers

2017 Was a Banner Year for SustainersBased on the Target Analytics 2017 Was a Banner Year for Sustainers. Target Analytics held its 2017donorCentrics™ Sustainer Summit in March 2018. The summit included participation from 38 organizations of different sizes and missions, with a total of 20.5 million donors who donated $2.52 billion in 2017.

Reporting for the summit covered the period from July 2012 to June 2017. All year references refer to a July to June year. The term recurring refers to donors who are giving on a committed schedule, commonly called sustainers.

These are the key findings:

  • The median revenue per donor in 2017 for recurring donors who gave at least 12 recurring gifts was $320, and it increased each year since 2013 when it was $305.
  • The number of donors giving recurring gifts increased, and it increased at a faster pace than in prior years.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, the median increase in the number of recurring donors was 25%. The total donor population increased at a median 18.6%.
  • The five-year change (2013 to 2017) in the median number of recurring donors was a 70% increase.
  • The percent of revenue generated by recurring gifts increased from 17% to 22% over the past five years.
  • Direct acquisition of recurring donors is now the predominant way organizations are increasing their recurring donor files. Until 2016, more first-time recurring donors were converted from single gift giving. Now 67% are acquired directly as recurring gift donors.
  • A median 25.3% of all new donors made a recurring gift, up nearly ten percentage points from 16.1% the year before.
  • Four sources drive nearly all the direct acquisition of recurring donors: face-to-face street canvass, digital channels (including ads and email), radio, and DRTV.
  • Digital channels increased at a faster pace in 2017 than in prior years. A median 25% of all donors giving online made a recurring gift. There was an unprecedented increase in digitally acquired recurring donors in 2017. The composite for summit organizations was up 331%.
    Our giving environment has changed.
  • Americans are paying for things on a monthly basis. And in some cases, they are paying several things on a monthly basis. This is a change in day-to-day behavior that is beneficial to understanding the monthly giving offer.
  • Organizations across many sectors are asking for recurring gifts. This has raised the “brand” awareness of monthly giving.

Target Analytics continues to track recurring giving through its donorCentrics benchmarking service. These results are based on the performance of the organizations participating in the 2017 Summit. Analysis from the donor information in the Target Coop indicates that across all organizations in the coop, 6.5% of the donors are recurring gift donors. Recurring giving among summit participants is considerably higher than among the broader group of nonprofits.

Recurring giving has grown rapidly in the past five years and can be expected to continue to grow into the future. The potential for the percent of donors who will give monthly is not known, but there are many organizations with upwards of 40% recurring donors.

2017 Was a Banner Year for Sustainers By Carol Rhine, Principal Fundraising Analyst, Target Analytics, a Division of Blackbaud, Inc.