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8 Years of Uncertainty is Enough

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

By Jordanna Sussman

I recently attended DMAW’s Lunch & Learn “Industry Trends and Insights for the Nonprofit Sector”, presented by Carol Rhine, Principal Fundraising Analyst at Target Analytics. Here are my 4 Key Takeaways:

The wealthy are driving charitable giving

This was an overarching theme throughout Carol’s presentation:

  • Charitable contributions from donors at the top of the income and wealth ladder have increased significantly over the past decade.
  • There has been dramatic growth in the number of private grant-making foundations.
  • A disproportionate amount of growth went to sectors favored by the wealthy such as education and arts/culture.

New donor and retention rates are down

In 2015 both new donor and donor retention rates were down. This made us think — are we acquiring the right donors to our organizations? We discussed the importance of data, especially acquisition lists and markets, and how we want to make sure we are acquiring people who will make that second, third, fourth gift etc.

Language Counts – “Retain v. Renew”

Something that really struck me was how Carol explained that we want to “retain” a monthly donor and “renew” a single-gift donor. It got me thinking about all the elements that go into our direct mail pieces — especially art and copy — and how critical it is that we communicate with these audiences differently.

Do not say mail is “dead”

While mail may be a declining payment channel, it is a critical marketing touch point for people. We live in a world where marketing is truly integrated. Just because people may be giving via other channels such as email, online and mobile, it is still critical to send mail as that additional touch point.


Carol had just gotten back from the International Fundraising Conference in Belgium where the hot topic was Text to Give:

  • The FCC will be changing their rules so donors can opt out of texting versus having to opt in.
  • Soon there will be monthly giving options through mobile plans. You will soon be able to set up automatic monthly giving through your cell phone carrier and have it as a line item on your phone bill.

Thanks, DMAW for an informative session!

Jordanna Sussman is a Senior Account Executive at Lautman Maska Neill & Company. She can be reached at or 202-296-9660