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The 2021 rescue mission benchmarks are in!

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed rescue missions in many ways over the last two years. These changes have been compounded by shifts and trends that were already in motion prior to 2020.

The result—as we’ll see in RKD’s 2021 Rescue Mission Benchmarks—is the reshaping of many organizations and their donor files. But to fully understand the numbers, we need a quick recap of what we know to set the stage:

1. Changing attitudes toward religion are impacting fundraising

Since 2000, the number of households giving to charity has declined steadily. Much of this can be attributed to a drop in Americans identifying as religious.

2. Missions have been transforming their brands

At the same time, rescue missions have been evolving—both in the services they provide and in the way they identify themselves. Many have started using the term “life transformation ministries” to reflect their brands more accurately.

3. Missions are building better relationships with donors

Many organizations are taking these new identities and brands to rethink how they communicate with their constituents and donors. They’re also leaning more into strategic, long-term planning.

4. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wave of new donors

These donors look different demographically. They choose to give online more frequently. And—most importantly—they choose to give again and again.

5. Missions are leaning more into digital technology

Today’s faith-based organizations are starting to see the benefits of data-driven digital fundraising to “fish for people,” as Jesus once did.

6. Missions are focusing on content as much as offer

Today’s donors expect more than the traditional ask-and-repeat model. And what’s the best way to reach people? By telling stories—the way it’s been done for centuries.

With these six key points in mind, we present the 2021 Rescue Mission Benchmarks:

You’ll note in the video that the dramatic influx of new donors during the pandemic is impacting donor files. These new donors in 2020 became second-year donors in 2021, and we expect them to become a greater part of the core donor file in 2022.

How we communicate with these donors from an omnichannel perspective will be key.

If you'd like to see how your organization stacks up against other Rescue Missions, contact us today.


Glenn McKinney

As Senior Vice President at RKD Group, Glenn McKinney works with faith-based organizations like rescue missions and life-transformation ministries to provide innovative mail, online, phone, research, major gifts and planned giving strategies for clients. A strong champion of RKD’s donor-centric philosophy, Glenn and his team consistently exceed clients’ fundraising goals.

Glenn has 23 years of experience in the mission space. He spent eight years working for two missions in New York -- New York City Rescue Mission and The Bowery Mission -- before moving to the agency side for the last 15 years.

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