2020 was unprecedented (there’s that word again)!

Looking back on a wild year — 2020

I meet with many of our clients once a month to review their file performance and talk about what we are seeing across the agency and industry. In one of those meetings, I again used the word unprecedented to describe something and was met with groans. Not because it was not unprecedented but because almost everything in 2020 was.  

As we receive calendar year data (which for many clients took longer than normal because of December’s continued surge in generosity), I realize I’m running out of words to describe the year. General donor revenue (transactions under $10K) was up on average 32% year-over-year (YOY). Clients ranged in how much they grew — depending on their programs — but they grew. And December alone saw an average growth of 33% YOY. Only one client did not experience double-digit growth in December — but they did see 23% more gifts from general donors.

As for major gifts (transactions over $10K), the trend we’d been seeing all year continued: the number of large gifts was up 27% YOY. But gift size was down 11%. Still, the majority of our clients saw a jump in large gift revenue in CY2020 as well (even as the year started out slower in this area).  

What factors lead to revenue growth in 2020?

Most clients saw the revenue growth from every metric — improved retention of active donors, increased reactivation of lapsed, more new donors joining the file, higher gift frequency, and larger gift size.  

A few quick callouts on these growth metrics:

  • Donor files were up 27% across clients thanks to stronger retention, reactivation, and a huge boosts in acquisition.
  • New donors were up 92% YOY (ranging from 23% to 240% for our clients).
    • Online new donors were up 255%, while mail was up 60%. 
  • And, despite the emergency nature of the times and offers, conversion of new donors was up slightly when controlling for time on file.
  • Overall gifts were up 28% YOY.
    • And despite so many more new donors — who typically give fewer gifts than donors who have been on the file longer — the gift frequency grew across lifecycles and was up an average of 1% at the top level.
  • Finally, improved gift frequency and average gift led to a healthy uptick in overall donor value, which was up 4%.

What will 2021 bring?

2021 has already proven to be just as unpredictable and as — here’s that word again — unprecedented as 2020. But as we move into the year, we are doing so with a whole new group of donors. These new and reactivated donors are proving generous and are converting. 

Whatever 2021 brings, we recommend building on this lift. Work with your team of experts to map a path forward that ensures success. Take what 2020 brought you and use it to drive more growth in the future.  

And if you are not sure what that map could be, get in touch. We’re happy to help.