As you continue making plans for 2018, you may be wondering how your nonprofit fundraising program compares to those of your peers and what you can do to imitate the highest-performing organizations in your sector.

American Philanthropic’s Fundraising Performance Report survey this year looked at the development activities and results for 186 nonprofit organizations, and what those results show is organizations that invest in key development activities—including direct mail, planned giving, and donor clubs—are leaving everyone else behind.

How much time should you be investing in development each week? Does the size of your donor’s first gift make a difference? How much do nonprofits comparable to mine raise per development hour? Should we finally start that major donor club in 2018? Here are some interesting takeaways:

1. Development time-on-task pays off in a big way. Even for the tiniest groups, the return in dollars raised for each hour spent on development is nearly three times the cost of this time. For large groups, the return is a staggering 7 times the hourly cost.

2. Size of first-time gifts matters. Donors who gave first time gifts of $1,000 or more gave, on average, a total of around $26,500 over the next five years.

3. Recognizing your best donors makes a difference. Organizations with institutionally important planned giving programs and major donor clubs had more revenue, higher average gifts per donor, and faster growth.

This year's Fundraising Performance Report covers areas such as direct mail, foundation solicitations, donor cultivation, acquisition, and retention, corporate gifts, event revenue, online fundraising, and planned giving. The findings shed light on activities and practices that lead to success in fundraising, and they give organizational leaders the hard data and the relevant peer comparisons they need to make informed decisions.  

With an eye toward starting off on the right foot in 2018, this year’s survey participants will be getting a copy of the report in November. Participants will also have a chance to schedule a consultation with an American Philanthropic consultant to discuss how your organization’s results compared with your peers.

If you didn't get a chance to participate this time around and would like to see how your organization measures up compared to the highest-performing nonprofits in your sector, American Philanthropic can guide your organization through a fundraising audit.

Here at American Philanthropic, we draw on our experience with hundreds of nonprofits and proprietary data sets, assess our clients’ practices, and provide them with a full picture of how they measure up—and where their best opportunities for growth and improvement lie.

If you are interested in learning more about our fundraising audits, you can send me an email at I’d be happy to speak with you.