New Fundraising Report Sets Benchmarks for Nonprofits

New data reveals which variables correlate with organizational success and what separates high- from low-performing fundraising operations

West Chester, PA, April 5, 2016 – The most highly effective nonprofit organizations are not necessarily the most efficient. This is one of seven key findings from a new fundraising performance report from American Philanthropic, LLC, a leading strategic consulting and services firm.

“Counter-intuitively, we found that the most effective organizations were not necessarily the most efficient,” says founding partner and director of research Dr. Jeremy Beer. “The best-performing organizations don’t separate themselves by raising more money per development staff member, for example. Instead, they seem to invest in fundamental development activities whatever the immediate results, knowing that the work will pay off in the end.”

American Philanthropic’s report summarizes a survey of 99 conservative, libertarian, and faith-based organizations conducted in the summer of 2015. The survey included 35 questions directly related to development, including operations, boards, direct mail, foundation solicitations, donor cultivation, corporate gifts, event revenue, and online fundraising, among others.

The report’s six other key findings include:

  • Organizational size matters. Larger groups typically realize much greater efficiency in their fundraising operations than do smaller groups.
  • Investing in development does pay off. For every hour of organizational time invested in fundraising, even small organizations raise at least $250, and the overall average is $500.
  • Foundation grants account for a large percentage of development revenue. Foundation grants accounted for 41% of development revenue, and the percentage is higher the larger the group.
  • Relationship-building is crucial. Larger organizations conduct many more donor meetings than smaller organizations, and the most effective organizations conduct more meetings per development staffer than their peers. A far lower proportion of high-performing groups’ meetings are asks, indicating that these groups are investing in relationship-building.
  • Direct mail is vitally important. Groups of all sizes report that they receive an extremely high return on their investment in house-file solicitations, and the most highly effective organizations invest heavily in direct-mail prospecting.
  • Organizations underinvest in planned and online giving. Few survey participants reported receiving planned gifts, despite the high average size of such gifts, and their collective percentage of revenue derived from online sources is lower than reported national averages.

To help nonprofits measure their performance against their high-performing peers, the report answers four main questions:

  • What results are nonprofit groups getting in various areas of fundraising versus their investment?
  • Where do these nonprofits stand relative to each other? How do their fundraising numbers compare to those of similar sized groups?
  • How do fundraising numbers compare to other organizations operating in a similar sphere?
  • What variables are most highly correlated with organizational success?

The report also references relevant national benchmarks from other studies by Blackbaud and Third Space Studio.

Purchase the Fundraising Performance Report at

About American Philanthropic, LLC
American Philanthropic, LLC, is a consulting firm that helps nonprofits raise more money by providing high-quality professional development services, including direct mail program management, grant writing, development audits, organizational assessments, donor research, strategic planning, donor club management, and training seminars. The firm works with think tanks and advocacy groups, religious and human-services organizations, arts and culture groups, and schools, colleges, and universities. They maintain offices in Philadelphia and Phoenix metropolitan regions and work with clients nationwide.

Contact: Rachel Short, 302-635-7354