“Every two years, the donor relations community comes together and provides one of the best resources for our profession—the Pulse of Donor Relations Survey. It is a labor of love, answering questions that may not seem important at first but, when placed in the context of the profession, become a seminal work to understand our work and how it changes over time.” – Lynne Wester, Donor Relations Guru
Have you met Lynne Wester and her amazing team at the DRG Group? If you haven’t, you’re missing out, and you should connect with Lynne. Like, immediately.
If you do know Lynne, then you’re likely aware that every two years she and her team produce an amazing resource for the advancement community. It’s called the Pulse of Donor Relations Survey, and it is the result of insights and benchmarking from over 900 folks in the donor relations space.
In the words of EverTrue President, JD Beebe: “If you are a Director of Donor Relations, read this. If you are a VP of Advancement, read this. If you are a board member, read this. If you care about the future of fundraising, read this.”
We are privileged to share the DRG Group’s findings with our EverTrue audience. Here’s the full (free) report.
And here are four takeaways from the Survey that you simply can't miss.
1. You’re leaving a big swath of donors unthanked and uncontacted. The DRG report found that one out of two advancement teams does not send impact reports for unrestricted gifts. 25% of annual fund donors don’t receive any stewardship at all. And even when it comes to major donors, only 53% of advancement shops have individual engagement plans for their top-top prospects (as in, their top 25 donors).
Our EverTrue suggestion: Check out these live #dxowins from Donor Experience Officers who reach 100% of their 1,000-person portfolios every year. (Most of the folks in DXO portfolios are annual fund donors.)
2. The pandemic brought about a once-in-a-lifetime leap in technology adoption, and now even our most traditional alumni and donors are accustomed to receiving updates and reports digitally. Especially when they are high-quality, personalized, and deliver a more positive experience for the donor. Advancement is catching on, and over 50% of shops shared impact reports in print and digitally last year. But still, 87% of shops do NOT offer an online portal where donors can access their giving data.
In Lynne’s words, “If you’re still the 40% printing and mailing your reports, it’s time to catch up!”
Our EverTrue suggestion: Talk to us about ODDER, our On Demand Digital Endowment Reports that are personalized and securely delivered to donors.
3. Advancement has not been immune to the great resignation. Even pre-Covid, remote work grew by 159% from 2005-2020. In early 2020, 98% of all Americans said they’d want to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers. From 2020-2022, remote work grew again by 59%.
Meanwhile, in advancement, 34% of shops have lost a staff member – and they’ll have to adjust their “return to work” approach to recruit and retain talented employees.
Our EverTrue suggestion: We examined the Great Advancement Resignation and summed up these steps for advancement leadership, gift officers, and others to combat the industry’s talent retention and acquisition struggles.
4. Over half of advancement shops have not taken action to increase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. In Lynne’s words, “It looks like many of our organizations are still stuck in the conversation or lip service portion of the work. We still have a long way to go.”
The DRG Group is adding so much to the DEIB space for advancement. Check out their recent webinars on Tough Conversations in Donor Relations, or how to Move from Conversation to Action.
Our EverTrue suggestion: Check out advice from Dr. Jessica Elmore, Senior Director of DEIB Trainings at CASE, on 5 ways that every advancement shop can improve their DEIB efforts – immediately.
Let's get to work.
In Lynne’s words, “The power lies…in the effort and surge of ownership and pride we take in our profession of donor relations, a profession and vocation based in gratitude.”
It’s on all of us to put the takeaways from this year’s Pulse of Donor Relations Survey into practice and build more relationships in pursuit of a better world. Let’s go!