I think we’re all a little relieved that 2020 is only a few months from over.
Like many nonprofits, animal welfare organizations have been on a roller coaster ride since March. The unwavering support we’ve seen from donors has been inspiring, but the cancellation and postponement of events has brought serious financial challenges for many.
In the past few weeks, you may have seen industry reports sharing a 5.9% year-over-year decline in giving for animal welfare organizations in Q2. As we approach year-end, that can be a pretty concerning number.
To get a better sense of how our clients matched up, our Insights team pulled together benchmark data from 59 of our animal welfare clients for the first half of 2020. Spoiler alert: total revenue is up 7.8%.
A quick peek at the chart shows that, despite the turbulence of 2020, our animal welfare organizations have widely experienced stability – and, even better – growth.
What does this sea of numbers mean, you ask? Good question. To avoid completely overwhelming you with the data, I’m breaking down the chart above into key insights as we move through the second half of the year. Let’s dive in.
TOTAL REVENUE UP MONTH-BY-MONTH
As you can see, total revenue, active donors and number of gifts are up in all regions except the Midwest. That region experienced devastating floods that led to an influx of disaster giving in 2019, so it’s only natural that we’d see a slight drop-off this year. Also, many of the large organizations included in our benchmarks happen to be in the Midwest.
To get a better idea of where we stand, let’s look at revenue month-by-month:
This shows us that, even before the pandemic, animal welfare organizations were experiencing year-over-year growth. When COVID-19 kicked into full force in March, we still saw that growth. This is great news.
Now let’s look at what played into that revenue growth and how we can maintain it into the future.
INVESTING IN ACQUISITION PAYS OFF
We’ve been vocal about continued investment in acquisition since March. We’ve seen what happens when you cut acquisition. We don’t want that to happen to you.
That’s why investing in acquisition has been a major priority for us this year, and clearly, it’s paid off. New donor counts and revenue are up in all regions (apart from the Midwest, for reasons mentioned above).
To continue this growth into the new year, we must keep our foot on the gas. Acquisition is still working despite the turbulence of the economy, and animal welfare organizations who lean into it will see sustainable growth into the future.
REPLACING EVENT REVENUE
You can’t have a conversation about fundraising in the animal welfare world without considering events. As we all know, events are a major source of revenue for animal welfare organizations.
Unfortunately, starting in mid-March, most, if not all, in-person events were either canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.
From the data we’ve seen so far, COVID giving has helped carry organizations through so far. However, as we continue to move forward, finding ways to replace event revenue will be a critical piece of the equation.
One way to do this is through virtual events. Many organizations have seen early success taking their traditional in-person events virtual.
However, it takes more than just a great show for success. Just like with their in-person counterparts, virtual events require a fundraising strategy, major donor stewardship and volunteer activation.
CONNECT WITH YOUR MAJOR DONORS
Speaking of major donor stewardship – that’s another area to prioritize for continued growth.
Major donors can be the light at the end of the tunnel when an event falls through or you need that extra support to get you through the year.
Make sure you are prioritizing relationship-building with these donors. Communicate your need with them and perform wellness calls to check in. Most importantly, mine your donor files for individuals with the potential to make major gifts and begin building relationships with them.
Major donors are your biggest fans and can help you close the gap when times are tough.
LEANING ON DIGITAL
Finally, many of our clients have seen success due to their multichannel approach to fundraising.
This pandemic is unlike a typical disaster in pretty much every way. But one similarity we’re seeing is the need for organizations to lean on digital for innovative fundraising solutions.
Animal welfare organizations with a robust digital program are performing the best during this time because they can pivot quickly and meet donors where they are – online.
I’ll be the first to admit that these have been challenging times for all of us in the animal welfare family. But I also know that we are a resilient group. By taking the insights gathered from the first half of long year of fundraising and leaning on the growth experienced thus far, we can continue to build our future.