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2023 Q1 animal welfare benchmarks: A steady path for growth

Our full-year benchmarks revealed that animal welfare organizations are stronger post-COVID, with revenue growth being driven by gift frequency and average gift size. Has anything changed after the first quarter of 2023? 

To cut to the chase, animal welfare organizations are continuing to see growth, after moderate giving trends during the pandemic. And our Q1 2023 benchmarks back this up. 

Before we dive in, let’s discuss a few housekeeping items to help you understand our benchmarks.  

About the report 

We analyzed full-file data from 50 RKD animal welfare clients across the U.S. from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2023. Trends are based on all donors and all gift types, excluding gifts of $10,000 or more.  

Each metric is indexed. We set 2019 as the baseline value of 100. Results in the following years are compared against 2019 and then averaged across clients, explaining the relative change in result for each benchmark over time.  

Values over 100 indicate an increase over the value in 2019. Values below 100 indicate a decrease vs. the value in 2019. For example, an active donor value of 200 would represent a doubling in the number of active donors. 

3 key learnings from Q1 

1. Revenue is steadily rising. 

It’s no secret animal welfare organizations saw less dramatic revenue growth during COVID than food banks or other human service organizations. However, we still saw moderate growth during the pandemic, with an even greater acceleration after—ending 2022 31% higher than 2018 levels. 

As we closed out the first quarter of 2023, animal welfare saw a 34% annualized revenue growth versus the first quarter of 2019. 



2. New donor first gift amounts are lifting donor quality.  

A new quality of donor is emerging for animal welfare organizations as newly acquired donors continue to give higher first gifts. In Q1 of 2023, first gifts improved significantly—19% higher than pre-COVID levels and 30% higher than Q1 of 2022. 



3. Donor value continues to improve thanks to higher average gifts and increased gift frequency. 

And new donor value isn’t the only thing that’s growing—overall donor value is also rising, driven by the combination of higher average gifts and increased gift frequency.  

After receiving moderate average gifts during the pandemic, our animal welfare clients are seeing a 13% lift in annualized average gifts closing out 2023 Q1.  


In addition to increases in average gifts, donors are starting to give more often. At the end of this quarter, gift frequency was up 7% over 2019.  


In summary, animal welfare organizations are starting to see a lift in trends after moderate giving levels during the pandemic. As we mentioned in our full-year benchmarks, 2023 will be a critical year for animal welfare organizations as they continue to capitalize off this growth. A few areas we’re focusing on for our clients include:  

  • Increasing digital investment to drive acquisition and retention 
  • Testing community-based program language across all channels 
  • Leaning into deeply lapsed and transition donor retention 
  • Building a stronger pipeline for major donor giving 

You can read more about each of these efforts here. 

David Miller

As Senior Vice President at RKD Group, David brings more than two decades of animal welfare experience to help organizations craft their fundraising strategies for success. Prior to joining RKD in 2011, David spent 14 years working at animal welfare organizations, including a stint as CEO at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League.

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