Fundraising Benchmarking 2020

Back in 2017 I had the brilliant idea of updating the Fundratios 2013 report, undertaking a new round of analysis on ROI fundraising benchmarking figures.

In 2019, we launched the findings, and to date around 400 people have downloaded the study which remains the only UK Fundraising ROI benchmarking study which is both free to participate in and free to download.


Let’s do it again!


Why is it important to benchmark our return on investment figures?

When we did our first study in 2018, fundraising wasn’t exactly easy.  Years of austerity following the 2008 global financial crash meant reduced grant income and reduced giving from trusts and foundations and either a reduction or stagnation in other forms of giving.

Externally, we witnessed a reduction in public services and an increase in demand for the things which charities do, making the landscape increasingly competitive


Enter the monumental shit storm that is 2020.


Where do we even start???

What was a tough job got about a thousand times harder.


Timing is everything

We hesitated to continue with this study.  We wondered if it was worth it given that the entire world has changed within a few short weeks.

A fundraising benchmarking study in 2020 will require us to use 2019 figures  i.e. figures relating to our fundraising work before the coronavirus ruined it all.

We asked ourselves:


‘What would be the point of analysing our 2019 figures when our ability to make plans beyond the short term is hampered?’


‘How can looking to the past help us when knowing that a return to ‘business as usual’ is far from guaranteed?’


We decided however that to be able to make judgements and decisions in our future, we need baseline figures to inform where we’ve come from.

A further study a couple of years down the line, will give us further interesting data across a very turbulent few years and will help us to see clearly:


  • What has changed?
  • What has recovered?
  • What has stayed the same?


The more we consider it, the more we believe that this is the PERFECT time to assess the return on investment figures for each area of our fundraising activities.


Why do we love data so much?

Three key reasons:


  • it helps us make informed decisions
  • it gives us permission to try something new
  • it gives us permission to ditch something which isn’t working.


Data about the returns on investment for different types of fundraising is especially helpful for people who are not fundraisers but who are expected to make decisions about where to invest limited resources in fundraising.

Whilst ROI figures in isolation do NOT give all the information needed to make rounded and well thought out choices, they are, for many people, a helpful piece of the puzzle.


Our vision:

  • Is for a study which has at least fifty participants. The more participants, the more reliable the results.
  • Is that participants follow the instructions as carefully as they can (to ensure the cleanest possible data)
  • That people don’t get too hung up on perfection. Participation is better than perfection.  We KNOW we can’t compare apples with apples.  But we also believe that something is better than nothing.
  • To be able to report results by sector as well as by fundraising type
  • To make this a longer term study. The more years’ data we have, the more useful this work becomes


So how can I get involved?

Glad you asked!

Honesty time.  Getting people to participate in this in 2018 was like pulling teeth.

People want the information but doing the survey and finding the info is kind of boring.

We totally get it (though we truly believe that fundraisers should know their figures!).

We’re confident that now you’ve seen our 2019 report, you’ll want to play a part in a better, more robust and up to date study, even if meeting those ROI figures will be hard for the foreseeable future.

Back when we launched the 2019 study, LarkOwl was a newly formed business.  No-one had heard of us and success depended on individual contacts, begging, schmoozing and (in some cases) bribing.


We have a larger platform now

We have YOU, our wonderful newsletter readers (many of whom are here because of our 2019 Benchmarking Study)


We know that this study is going to be a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of awesome and we hope so much that you will be a part of it.

To participate you need to know:


  • How much money you raise (ish) from each type of fundraising you do
  • How much money you spend (ish) from each type of fundraising you do


We ask that when the study is live in June, you:


  1. Read our guide (to help you work within standard definitions)
  2. Fill in the survey
  3. Don’t get too hung up on your figures being perfect. Not everyone does every type of fundraising (so it’s not therefore possible for everyone to answer every question)
  4. Be honest. If you’ve had a shocker of a year or a MASSIVE major gift, so be it.  There will be space for notes and a place for you to explain your anomalies (anonymously of course)


A reminder, we will open the 2020 Fundraising Benchmarking survey between in JUNE.

For now:

  1. PLEASE get your figures ready in anticipation.
  2. PLEASE share this with colleagues as far and wide and encourage them to join in.


Don’t worry, we’ll remind you 😊 and thank you in advance for committing an hour of your life to this boring but important work!

Posted in Fundraising.