Still Too Early to Tell

With one week of 2019 under our belts, fundraising managers are processing donations and getting ready to run reports on calendar year-end fundraising.

I’ve heard rumbles that digital donations are down at some non-profits, but I’ve also heard that fundraising is flat or slightly above expectations. The data is being gathered, so by the end of the quarter we should know where we stand. Our friends at M+R put up a blog post Monday with a rather amusing yet ominous title: What the heck just happened? Riding the December digital fundraising rollercoaster: exciting, scary, a little nausea-inducing!  in which they, too, remind us to wait for—and even participate in—the gathering of data to help paint a clearer picture of 2018 revenue, at least from a digital perspective.

Here is a sample of the scuttlebutt M+R is hearing:

“• Some nonprofits experienced year-over-year growth, but overall December fundraising returns were down for many organizations by a little or a lot
• November’s Giving Tuesday fundraising results were generally up year over year by a little or a lot
• December’s email results were down over last year’s returns for half of organizations and up for the other half
• Unsourced web giving was more down than up”

I’m hopeful you have been tracking your station’s trends quarterly through CDP’s Revenue Opportunity & Action Reports (ROAR) and have enough info to provide a year-over-year snapshot. By the way, January 15th is the next ROAR data submission deadline for Q4 of calendar year 2018.

After the passing of the 2017 tax law, non-profits were cautious about predicting whether the significant change in personal exemptions to $12,000 per individual would negatively affect giving. Throughout 2018 a “Keep Calm & Carry On” approach predominated, with the stray article or broadcast piece asking the rhetorical question. We must be careful in measuring YOY in this case, because many non-profits alerted their donors about the tax law change and may have artificially inflated CY 2017 results, resulting in some donors doubling up on gifts to meet the tax deadline prior to the law going into effect.

We will be exploring a number of factors that affected giving in 2018, and we welcome feedback from CDP partner stations. Our hope is to paint a clearer picture of decisions made by our donors, which will help us key in on compelling cases and motivations.

Some recommendations:
• Study your ROAR reports to determine performances of all fundraising channels and adjust accordingly.
• Spend time in 2019 on improving cross-channel campaign coordination, segmentation, timing, and messaging
• Invest in donor Stewardship, such as events, handwritten notes, thank-you calls or on-air spots
• Work with programming and content creators to assure the station is achieving the highest level of public service, for which your station deserves to be rewarded by donor support. You can’t have one without the other

Watch this space for missives and alerts about CY 2018 fundraising results, and join us for the next CDP webinar, to be announced soon.

Barry NelsonComment