How are you doing with Individual Donors? by Jenny Carrillo, MA, CFRE

Many of the non-profit organizations with whom we work are small, scrappy, grassroots organizations doing a whole lot of good with few staff and resources.   I spent most of my pre-consulting career working for these kinds of organizations, and so I totally get the frustration of reading about fundraising strategies that involve staff and resources that simply aren’t available to many of us.

What kind of success can you expect if you don’t have a prospect research department?  Full-time major gift officers?  Top-of-the-line donor software staffed with people who actually know how to use it?

If you are a one-person development shop, or more likely, the Executive Director who also has the responsibility of fundraising, you may wonder what is realistic to expect from your efforts if you don’t have the tools and resources available to university, hospital or other multi-million dollar non-profit organization professionals.  How do you establish realistic fundraising goals and know that you are getting the kind of results you should given everything else that you juggle at work?

I just read a really interesting report called the “Individual Donor Benchmark Report” prepared by Third Space Studio ( that gathered data from small (under $1M) non-profit organizations to benchmark fundraising results specifically from individual donors.  It is really interesting, and I’d encourage you to download and read the whole report [].  They have also prepared a really nifty infographic that highlights some of the key findings that we have posted on our Resources page of our website.

Some things that I found to be really interesting:

  • Small non-profits are reporting decreased dependence on Foundations and revenue from individuals is increasing, up 18% between 2012 and 2013.
  • On average, organizations under $2 million are raising about 36% of their budget from individual donors.  That number varies widely though, especially for smaller organizations.
  • Total amount raised from individuals is about $168,042 on average.
  • Overall, organizations had about 552 donors giving about $403 on average.
  • Membership organizations have many more donors with smaller average gifts, but essentially generate the same about of income from individuals as organizations without membership programs.
  • About half of all the funds raised from individuals are coming from a handful of donors.  Organizations averaged 16 major (defined as giving $1,000+) donors giving an average gift of $5,752. The total amount of revenue from major donors was about 51% of all revenue from individuals.
  • On average, organizations held just 17 meetings with donors to cultivate, ask, or thank them.


This report is just chock-full of really interesting information for a data-geek like me.  But practically speaking, it is a great resource for setting your own realistic fundraising goals and performance metrics.  Check it out.  How do you measure up? domain data

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