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Understanding and Calculating "Donor Retention Rate"
Understanding and Calculating "Donor Retention Rate"

Your donor retention rate is one good indicator of the health of your organization. But what is it, really? And what should I do with it?

Updated over a week ago

Within Donor Management, you can see several statistics on your donors at-a-glance, including your "donor retention rate" from the past three years.

Your donor retention rate is the calculated rate of which donors that gave in the previous year also gave in the following year. For example, your 2023 donor retention rate should give you the percentage of which of your donors that gave in 2022 also gave in 2023 - in other words, which donors were "retained" year-over-year.

If your organization operates on a fiscal year that you've updated to reflect in Donor Management, your donor retention rate will reflect which donors were retained over the course of your fiscal years, instead of the calendar year.

In a perfect-world scenario, you'd see a 100% donor retention rate - meaning that every donor who donated in the previous year chose to donate again. However, the industry average for most nonprofit's retention rate is less than 50%, so it's important to pay attention to this statistic and do your best to keep your donors engaged and excited about your organization's fundraising efforts.

Calculating Your Donor Retention Rate

While Donor Management can calculate your annual donor retention rate on your behalf, you can also manually calculate that rate if you choose - namely, this might be helpful if you're looking at a smaller time frame, or a specific group of donors.

To do so, you'll want to create a filter in the "Contacts" tab that is looking for the "total donation amount (custom time frame)." You'll then want to select the specific time frame you're looking at, and then select the "greater than zero" option from the dropdown menu.

Once you've run that filter, you'll want to make note of how many donors appear in your search results.

You'll then want to create a separate, second filter in the "Contacts" tab that is looking for the "total donation amount (custom time frame)" for the second time frame you're comparing - then select that time frame, and select the "greater than zero" option from the dropdown menu.

Once you run that second filter, you'll also want to make a note of how many donors appear in this second set of search results.

Finally, you'll divide the first number of results by the second number of results, and then multiply the total by 100% to determine the percentage of donors retained over time.


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