Avalon Cross-Client Benchmarking Report
By TJ Hillinger
As we head into the busy final quarter of the year, we find Avalon Analytics’ Cross-Client Benchmarking Report to be very helpful in identifying trends and developing strategies for moving forward. The latest benchmarking report covers two years of results, ending with the second quarter of FY17, and includes Avalon clients that participate in Avalon Analytics work – 14 organizations covering multiple sectors. As we head into the busy final quarter of the year, we find Avalon Analytics’ Cross-Client Benchmarking Report to be very helpful in identifying trends and developing strategies for moving forward. The latest benchmarking report covers two years of results, ending with the second quarter of FY17, and includes Avalon clients that participate in Avalon Analytics work – 14 organizations covering multiple sectors.
Overall, we’re above industry benchmarks reported by donorCentrics on a number of fronts. Some takeaways:
- Revenue, donors, and gifts all increased by 25% or more when compared to last year. A few Avalon clients are experiencing tremendous growth due to unusual circumstances (for example, the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture), but even without these clients in the mix, the growth trend holds and exceeds industry benchmarks.
- Gross and net revenue increased by 25%, ahead of the industry average gross revenue increase of 8%.
- The number of donors increased by 27%, as did gifts. Industry averages were 4% and 5.8% respectively.
- Average gift, gifts per donor, and revenue per donor were down very slightly (1%). This varies from the increases seen in the industry as a whole—but Avalon clients also saw such significant growth overall that this trend is not surprising, with far more new joins on file compared to industry trends (see below).
- The 2016 elections and their aftermath definitely played an important role in boosting revenue for many of our clients—and this is consistent with what the industry has seen as a whole. Avalon’s non-political clients experienced 6% growth in revenue and 1% growth in donors in the year-over-year comparison.
- Looking more closely at donors, we saw increases in all categories: multi-year donors, first-year donors, new joins, and reinstates were all up in the most recent 12-month period, in line with overall industry trends.
- The biggest bump was in acquisition of new joins, which increased by 53%—translating to 129,000 new donors for our clients! The average gift declined slightly, which is not surprising given the influx in this area. The industry benchmark for acquisition was 16% growth through FY17 Q2. Both the elections and unexpected or one-time events mentioned above played a key role here.
- First-year donors increased by 46%, thanks to great first-year retention and growth in new joins in the previous year. This is a major Avalon focus, with high long-term value, cultivation, steady upgrading, and donor bridge programs that encourage loyalty and increased giving.
- Reinstates were up by 29%. By successfully re-engaging these lapsed donors, we brought in $3M more in revenue this year over last year.
- Multi-year donors increased by 4%. Growing and retaining these high-value donors is critical to any successful program.
- Retention was up across the board, which is consistent with the industry over the past year.
- Overall donor retention increased by 2% to 53.6%. This is in line with recent trends.
- First-year retention increased by 12% to 33.6%. This exceeds the industry trend of 4% growth.
- Multi-year retention increased by 2% to 63.4%. This is similar to the industry trend.
- Avalon has increased focus on second gift trends to give an early read on donor loyalty, retention, and long-term value. Second gift trends have largely improved over FY16, and the donors responsible for the influx over the past year do not show signs of low commitment, although that could change. While no readily available benchmarking numbers exist for the industry as a whole, this is likely a consistent trend for many organizations.
- The second gift rate for donors on file three months has increased by 30% over last year.
- The length of time between first and second gifts has condensed slightly from 1.7 to 1.6 months.
- Similarly, the rate of second gift for those new donors on file six months increased by 18%, while the number of months to that gift was reduced 6%.
- Avalon will continue to watch this important metric, which is an indicator of retention and long-term value, with a special focus on Trump bump donors post-2016 elections.
The bottom line? In the wake of recent natural disasters, and since the 2016 elections, donors are ready and willing to give. And it pays to invest in acquiring new donors, reinstating lapsed donors, and increasing loyalty through cultivation and upgrading programs.
Industry Benchmarking Source: donorCentrics Index of Direct Marketing Fundraising FY17 Q2