New Year. New Slate.

Happy New Year! 

When I worked in higher education, the first day of the year became a big letdown. You survived the year end donation rush, processed all the year-end gifts, and thanked all your donors. As you catch your breath, you look at the "year to date" totals and see a big fat Zero. Zilch. Big donut. 

Whether your new funding year starts on January 1, July 1 or some other day during the year, you can use this time to prepare for a strong 2014.


Start by reviewing your current donors and plan how to expand your donor base.


Start with these simple questions:

1. How much did your raise in 2013 compared to 2012? Does an anomaly like a capital campaign, unexpected bequest, or major gift explain the difference? If not, what does?

2.  How many donors did you have in 2013 compared to 2012? Did you implement a new donor acquisition or retention strategy to get those donors? How well did that work?

From there, ask some more probing questions:

1.  Look at individual major donors. Which of your major donors gave in 2012 but not in 2013? Did you ask them to give again? If not, why not? If so, why did they not give? If you don't know, ask them!

2. Review your donor retention rates. A recent study by the Urban Institute found that on average, only 43% of donors contribute in a subsequent year. How many of your donors continue to give each year? Increasing your donor retention by only 10% can increase the value of your donations by 200% while acquiring new donors can actually cost you money. Which would you prefer?

3. Evaluate upgraded and downgraded donors. Which donors have given the same amount for a number of years? Are they ready to increase their gift? Are they a good planned giving prospect? Who has decreased their gifts? Do you know why? Can you re-engage them at the higher level?

Take the time now to understand your donors and their giving behavior. This will allow you to develop plans for the New Year that target your time and attention on those donors most likely to support your organization.

Then a year from now, you can celebrate a truly Happy New Year... before you start all over again.

Happy Data Analyzing!