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Animal Welfare Benchmarks: Donor value reaches new heights

April 26, 2023, David Miller

The last few years have been – to say the least—a challenge. Through it all, we’ve been navigating a significant shift in the way we speak to our donors, moving away adoption-focused messaging and toward keeping pets in homes. At the same time, investment in digital, sustainers and major donors has reached new heights.

To better understand how this has impacted animal welfare organizations in 2023, we conducted our annual Animal Welfare Benchmark Report, in which we examined data from 88 animal welfare organizations across the nation.

Key findings from our analysis

Animal welfare organizations are stronger post-COVID.

Revenue certainly didn’t skyrocket like at food banks, but our animal welfare clients still saw steady year-over-year revenue growth from 2018 through 2022. Revenue is 31% higher today than it was in 2018.

Average donor value has reached new heights.

Animal welfare donors are more generous than ever before. Average donor value reached new heights in 2022—up 18% since 2018. This is attributed to a 10% increase in average gift and a 7% lift in frequency.

Retention is softening.

Although donor value and revenue are up, donor retention rates have almost returned to pre-COVID levels. Core donor retention, those who have given two consecutive years or more, has remained fairly stable since 2018.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For a complete look at our findings plus a breakdown by region and size, check out our full 2023 Animal Welfare Benchmark Report.

How to adapt your strategies

Embrace messaging shifts

Throughout 2020 and 2021, millions of Americans adopted pets. As a result, there are more pet owners who need help keeping their pets at home than ever before.

To address this shift in mindset, many organizations we work with have been adjusting their messaging to encourage donors and animal lovers to give to the programs that help keep pets in homes. Embrace this change by educating your donor base on services you provide outside of adoption, like temporary housing, affordable vet services, pet food banks and more.

Continue to increase digital investment

It’s no secret that the future of fundraising lies in digital. With more donors acquired online than ever before, we need to continue to scale digital programs to retain and build deeper relationships with these donors.

A huge area of focus for animal welfare organizations should be optimized donor experiences. We’re looking at how we can personalize online content—like donation forms, for example—to give donors better experiences when they interact with your cause.

Develop major donor pipeline

Finally, the major donor pipeline is and always will be one of the most important areas animal welfare organizations can focus on. Major donors are some of your most loyal supporters and can help provide stability in challenging times.

Through the use of modeling, animal welfare organizations can better identify and understand which donors on their file have the propensity to give large gifts. Once identified, they should be targeted with personalized and meaningful engagement pieces to build strong relationships and move them up your pipeline.

At the end of the day, animal welfare organizations are stronger post-COVID. 2023 is a critical growth year, and the organizations who focus on messaging, digital investment and major donor development will continue to see long-term success.

Learn More

2023 Animal Welfare Benchmark Report
Blog: It’s Time to Shift the Mindset
Recorded Webinars with RKD: Future-Focused Fundraising

About David Miller
David Miller is Senior Vice President at RKD Group, a leading fundraising and marketing services provider to hundreds of nonprofit organizations. He brings more than two decades of animal welfare experience to help organizations craft their fundraising strategies for success. Prior to joining RKD in 2011, David spent 14 years working at animal welfare organizations, including serving as the CEO of three organizations in Florida and North Carolina.

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