ECFA's Inaugural Nonprofit Fundraising Survey Reveals Strategic Need to Move Donors up Giving Pyramid: '80/20 Rule' Changing

Donor Acquisition #1 Concern Keeping Nonprofit Fundraisers Awake:
Others Sleep Soundly Trusting God


ecfaWINCHESTER, Va. - (Christian News Service) Among top findings, ECFA's inaugural 2013 Survey fundraising survey of 250 leaders of its Christ-centered, accredited-member organizations identified that "moving donors up the giving pyramid" is the main fundraising effort that needs to be fixed, and indicates for the first time the longstanding "80/20 rule" is tilting.

CEOs and development officers (CDOs) also report that acquiring new donors is the most frequent concern keeping them awake at night, although some say knowing God is in control allows them to rest well. 

"Highlights of the survey may now be utilized to trigger thoughtful discussions among nonprofit leadership," said Dan Busby, president of ECFA (www.ecfa.org). "By studying trends and what is working in fellow organizations, leaders can determine how to tackle these fundraising interests most effectively."

Ninety percent of nonprofit fundraising executives responding to the survey expressed that their greatest area needing improvement is moving donors up the "giving pyramid," inspiring a higher level of giving commitment as one's heart grows closer to God.

An aging donor base and inadequate board involvement also rose among Christ-centered fundraising concerns.

The longstanding "80/20 rule" that 80 percent of gifts are given by 20 percent of donors was confirmed by only 23 percent of respondents. However, 30 percent of respondents report a new 75/25 ratio, and totals show that almost 27 percent of responding organizations are tracking above the "80/20 rule."

A slight disconnect was noted in data about relating impact measurement to donors. Almost 72 percent agreed or strongly agreed their donors are very interested in the impact measurements of their programs, products and services, yet only 61 percent responded they communicate these impact measurements externally.

The survey revealed new information about specific donor case loads, with CEOs averaging 26 donors as their personal responsibility, and CDOs averaging 61. "This is new data not known to be published anywhere else," said Busby.

Of particular interest are the open-ended comments from CEOs and CDOs to the question, "What area of your fundraising is keeping you up at night?" The most frequent answer from 17 percent of respondents was donor acquisition, while several indicated their concerns do not rise to the level of preventing sleep. "I know that when we do what is required, God will provide," wrote one nonprofit fundraiser.

ECFA survey data, unavailable from any other source, is designed to be utilized by researchers, academic institutions, board governance consultants and development staff, board and senior team members of Christ-centered nonprofit organizations. Current and future ECFA surveys can be accessed at www.ecfa.org/content/surveys.

"This first survey is one of many resources in ECFA's continuing commitment to provide fundraising and stewardship resources for its accredited organizations," said Busby. "As we review best practices and trends, we can better discern how to raise 'kingdom resources' in God-honoring ways."

The comprehensive report, including all raw data and open-ended comments, is available for purchase, subject to copyright restrictions and intended use. Each section of survey results is followed by professional insights and observations. Multiple format options are available. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..