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GG+A Survey: How Regular Giving Programmes Among UK/EU Institutions in Higher Ed Measure Up in 2015

Regular giving is now most definitely multi-channel. The mean number of solicitation methods employed by our respondents is just over five. Regular giving professionals are busy people! And other keen insights from our recent survey of UK/EU education fundraisers.

By Adrian Salmon and Lori Yersh

It seemed like a very good time, just before the CASE Europe Regular Giving Conference held in early December, to take the pulse of UK and EU educational institutions’ regular giving (annual giving) programmes. To that end, GG+A invited 98 institutions across the EU to take part in a 20-question survey. Twenty-one institutions completed the whole survey (21%) and 19 more completed at least part, making for a 41% overall response. Although this is not intended to be a fully detailed benchmarking study, the results certainly make for a very interesting snapshot of UK/EU regular giving programmes in 2015.

Twenty questions have yielded more than 20 pages of insight! We hope you’ll be able to take time to read through the whole set of findings.

Download GG+A Survey – UK-EU Regular Giving 2015.

Survey Highlights

UK survey graph 33

Donor acquisition and donor retention top of the list of key challenges for regular giving professionals. After these two, working with other partners/teams within their own institutions was respondents’ next biggest challenge.

Other key insights:

+ Most respondents define annual gifts by whether they are repeatable below an agreed value threshold, or by the solicitation channels used to secure them.

+ For nearly two-thirds of respondents, the cut-off value between annual gifts and major gifts is at least £10,000.

+ A very wide range of donor counts was given, from just 30 to 9,200. The mean number of donors is 2011 and the median just over 1,300.

+ Average annual donor numbers step up incrementally from the youngest programmes to the oldest. However it is noticeable that programmes established between 2006 and 2010 are not as far ahead as they might be of their counterparts established since 2011.

+ The reported range of annual giving income is equally wide, from £19,000 (€26,150) to £914,000 (€1,026,000). The mean amount raised is £378,295 (€520,573), and the median is £332,000 (€456,867).

+ A very wide range of total budget allocations was reported, from £26,000 (€36,000) to £850,000 (€1,170,000). It is clear that there is significant variance in institutional investment in regular giving. The mean total budget allocation is £204,447 (€283,000) and the median is £133,000 (€184,000).

+ On average, programmes spend around 55% of their budget on permanent staff compared to non-staff costs.

+ The average cost per £ raised, taking into account permanent staff costs, is 79p. Stripping out permanent staff costs gives an average cost per £ raised of 34p.

+ Beware ratios. It’s not necessarily the case that the lower the cost per £ raised, the better. Instead in this dataset there seems to be a ‘sweet spot’ for programmes around the 40p to 50p per £ raised point, who are generating the highest levels of net income.

+ Annual giving programmes that can spend more, raise more. In this ‘snapshot’ dataset, the annual giving programmes with total annual budgets greater than £200,000 raised on average three times more in the most recent completed fiscal year than those with budgets below £200,000.

+ The average cost per annual giving donor is £119 including the cost of permanent staff, and £50 excluding permanent staff.

+ The mean staff complement for the regular giving programmes in this dataset is just over 3 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs).

+ There is a wide range of constituencies now being approached for regular giving, but 82% of respondents are focusing on soliciting between one and three distinct constituencies.

+ Regular giving is now most definitely multi-channel. The mean number of solicitation methods employed by our respondents is just over five. Regular giving professionals are busy people!

+ Is leadership giving under-resourced? Although 11 institutions cited it as a solicitation method, only four institutions devoted any permanent staff time at all to face-to-face annual giving solicitations. Those programmes that do have at least part of a permanent staff member’s time devoted to leadership giving appear to raise around £100,000 more on average than those that do not.

+ Although most programmes reported at least moderate increases in donor numbers and income over the last two or three years, most respondents also expected no increase in their annual giving budgets for the next year at least.

Download the survey.

Lori Yersh, GG+A Consulting Vice President, is the co-author of the survey and this blog post. Read her bio.  

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About the author

Adrian Salmon

Vice President

Adrian Salmon, Vice President, GG+A Europe, joined the firm in April 2015. He brings nearly 20 years of direct-marketing fundraising experience in the higher education, arts and culture, and wider not-for-profit spheres. His particular expertise includes direct mail fundraising, annual giving program management, and management of contributions from integrated mail…