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Understanding Your Year-End Performance with GivingDNA

The new year holds great promise for nonprofits. The economy’s upward trajectory, plus the fact that 2024 is an election year, means charities will likely see increased contributions. But don’t get ahead of yourself just yet. To truly make the most of the coming year, it’s crucial to break down your performance at the end of 2023.

The average nonprofit raises about a quarter of its annual revenue in December. Add in the $3.1 billion raised nationwide on Giving Tuesday, and organizations have significant donations to sort through from November and December.

But no one wants to start the new year stressed out. That’s why we’ve created this guide and its accompanying worksheet — to help you better understand your year-end performance so you can define and achieve clear goals in 2024. 


The Year-End Gifts Are In — Time to Debrief 

The end of the year is the most important fundraising season for every organization, regardless of its size, mission, or fiscal year schedule. Some donors rush to make year-end gifts for tax benefits, while others feel extra charitable during the holidays. Either way, this is typically when your hard work and outreach start to pay off.

Stepping back and analyzing your year-end gifts can help your organization in a few ways. For instance, when you know your major gift value, you can set appropriate benchmarks for your fundraising team. This is especially important if you’re a small organization trying to grow. What will you consider a major gift vs. a mid-level gift? Where should you set monthly giving targets?

Reviewing year-end gifts also enables your nonprofit to set a realistic budget for the year ahead. Your performance last year plus your plans for this year will give you the best estimate for an achievable goal. You’ll only set yourself up for failure without considering the previous year's results.

Even if your 2024 budget is already set, take time to adjust it based on your final 2023 performance. Of course, this means you’ll need all this key data as soon as possible, which could be a challenge if you rely on your IT team or customer relationship management (CRM) database manager to provide it. Thankfully, GivingDNA puts all this information and more at your fingertips. Its streamlined dashboard displays what fundraising practices are working, trends among your donor groups, and opportunities for additional growth.

Such actionable insights are clear next steps you can take to be as efficient and effective in your fundraising as possible. In fact, the trends that emerge from your data can actually help you lay the groundwork for your future performance.


A Start Stop Continue analysis can help you streamline your operations and plan for the year ahead. Use the data in GivingDNA to answer these questions:


1. What should we start doing?
2. What should we stop doing?
3. What's working that we should continue doing?


Metrics and Key Trends

There are several ways to measure your year-end performance. Generally, it’s easy to say whether you fell short of, hit, or exceeded your fundraising goals. But we all know that there are nuances to consider. For instance, the number of donors may have fallen, but your total raised may have increased.

GivingDNA compiles metrics like these to help you identify your next focus areas. Specifically, these are the metrics you should pay attention to:

  • Donor Retention: This is a measure of how many donors continue to support your organization after they’ve made their first gift. To calculate it, divide the number of donors that gave this year by the number of donors that gave last year, then multiply that by 100. The average retention rate is 40–45%.

  • Coverage Ratio: Your coverage ratio tells you whether you’re bringing in enough new donors — or reactivating enough lapsed donors — to stay ahead of attrition in your file. Add your new and reactivated donors together, then divide that sum by the number of lapsed donors. You're healthy and growing if your coverage ratio is 100 or higher.

  • Revenue: This one is straightforward. How much money did you raise, and is it more than you raised the previous year? Be sure to monitor how this number has changed so you can determine why the number has changed.

  • Donor Count: How many 12-month active donors did you have this year? And did the count go up or down from the year before? Knowing this will help you make better projections for the year ahead and build a more accurate budget.

  • Average Gift Size: You’ll want to know the average gift size overall and at your different giving levels. Look at each segment to see how it’s trending. 


Trends in Donor Health

Beyond these metrics, you should also evaluate your donor health. Year over year (YOY), did donors give more or less? Then, review your tactics to see if you can pinpoint what outreach worked and what didn’t. For example, did a new, hyper-personalized email campaign re-energize donors who were on the verge of lapsing? Or did you scale back on social media advertising and see engagement drop as a result?

It's also critical to look at your donor lifecycle. Specifically, who are your donors? Are they new, second-year, multi-year, long-term, or reactivated donors? Compare this to previous years to determine where you’re succeeding and which program has the best return on investment (ROI).

Once you identify which categories your donors fall into, you can customize your outreach and experiences for them accordingly.

  • New Donors: Who are the new donors on your list, and how did they come to support you? Learn what they care about, establish best practices for communicating with them, and don’t be shy about asking them to make another gift.

  • Upgraded Donors: The donors who increased their giving to you this year — at any level — are telling you that they care about your mission. So, make sure you’re stewarding them appropriately. Learn what they like and what’s motivating their gifts.

  • Downgraded Donors: Some reasons donors reduce their giving are beyond your control. So, instead, look at what you can control, like your messaging and programs. There’s clearly a misfit somewhere — don’t be afraid to ask the donor what it is through a survey.

  • Lapsed Donors: About 60% of donors will lapse, so it’s important to reactivate them within the first year or two. Try to get a clear picture of what changed. Again, it could be beyond your control.

GivingDNA has an opportunity segment showing which donors are on the verge of lapsing. It comes to your inbox each month and enables you to be more proactive with your outreach so you can catch them before they fall.


Next Steps for Your Best Year Yet

Once you’ve determined how you performed against your goals for 2023, you can start planning for 2024. We’ve established that your budget should be based on your previous year’s performance plus your plans for this year. So, in terms of programming, is there a cause drawing more interest (and financial support)? Or suppose participation in live events is tapering off YOY. You might cut such programs and invest in digital experiences instead.

The revenue drivers are an obvious guidepost, but be sure to look at your donor base too. For instance, if your donors start to skew younger, you might expand your digital profile by becoming more active on social media or exploring an influencer strategy.

Of course, your goals don’t have to be financial. You could aim to upgrade more annual fund donors this year. With GivingDNA, you can see exactly who good candidates for this might be.

Digging deep into your year-end performance may not be your ideal way to start 2024, but this work is vital to building a strong year in which you crush your goals. To make it easier, we’ve designed the attached worksheet so you can be sure you’re not missing any key data points. Use it with GivingDNA to outline the data and insights that will make 2024 your best year yet. 


Connect with Us

GivingDNA leads the charge in nonprofit strategy, boasting a revolutionary data analytics platform with unmatched segmentation capabilities.

Fueled by next-generation technology, this user-friendly tool empowers organizations to finely tailor engagement strategies, pinpoint high-potential donors, and maximize fundraising impact with precision. With an intuitive interface facilitating effortless navigation, users take control, shaping a future where impactful interactions and precisely cultivated relationships become the norm. Notably, most nonprofits experience a significant return on investment within just 90 days, underscoring GivingDNA’s immediate and transformative impact on fundraising success.

Built on top of decades of fundraising expertise at Allegiance Group and Pursuant, GivingDNA fuels insights and strategy across your organization.

Did you meet your fundraising goals for 2023? Take a deeper look by filling out the Year-End Performance Recap worksheet and identify opportunities for 2024. Interested in learning how Allegiance Group, Pursuant and GivingDNA can support your organization? Let's Connect.