If you are a fundraiser that uses DonorPerfect or Raiser's Edge as your fundraising software database, you know the power of the SYBUNT report which can help target donors who give "Some Years But Unfortunately Not This" (year).
Most successful fundraisers know that inconsistent donors have a significantly lower lifetime value than donors who give annually. As a result, it is important to segment Annual Fund mailings to ensure too many resources aren't spent on these "occasional donors" at the expense of not soliciting committed donors enough.
It's just as important to understand the broader trends of individual donor giving and the body of research available to help fundraisers understand the big picture.
The NonProfit Times published an excellent review last week of an ongoing study conducted by the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS) at Indiana University.
The COPPS survey talks to 8,000 families about their nonprofit giving. According to this report, "while the total percentage of households that gave was similar in all three years (67 to 69 percent), it was not always the same households - in fact, it appears that a third of U.S. households appear to shift between donating and not donating.
COPPS researchers found that 56 percent of households gave donations in each of the three years. Another three in 10 households (29 percent) contributed to charity in some but not all years studied. Just under 15 percent did not contribute at all in any of the years studied.COPPS is conducted every two years (beginning in 2001) in conjunction with the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a landmark recurring survey by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research initiated in 1968.
It's a shame the survey results aren't made public in a more timely manner, but if you would like to read a recent report from January 2008 on the key findings from the survey conducted in 2005 (which covers giving in 2004) you can go here.
A special thanks to the NonProfit Times for publishing this critical link (which all fundraisers should bookmark) to the Center on Philanthropy for quick reference to a dozen major donor research studies.