AFP FEP Glossary of Terms

In 2006, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute established the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) to conduct research on fundraising effectiveness and to help nonprofit organizations increase their fundraising results at a faster pace. The Growth in Giving Initiative (GIG) was formally established in January of 2013 with funding commitments by these three founding sponsors, Association of Fundraising Professionals, DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. GIG is based on a unique, real-time, detailed gift-transaction data collection and analysis process and is designed to track several years of results for multi-year analysis of donor acquisition, retention, upgrading and other fundraising metrics within a variety of giving levels.

The AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) has made significant progress since inception in 2006 to define a comprehensive variety of performance criteria for detailed measurement of nonprofit fundraising performance summarized annually in the Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report. The Growth in Giving Initiative (GIG) now provides the most comprehensive data set of its kind. This data set is transaction-based allowing unique research into donor behavior not previously available. It is now possible to research specific donor retention activities in multiple categories and terms in various FEP and GIG reports to identify separate donor and donor database responses, such as average gift, donor recapture, donor gain/loss rate, etc. The combined FEP and GIG results are the subject of a variety of studies and reports, including the 2015 FEP Donor Retention Supplement (January 8, 2016) and the special Spotlight report “Benchmarking Giving to Human Services Organizations” by the GIVING USA Institute (Issue 2, 2016).

The FEP Glossary of Terms Appendix has been prepared to help ensure clarity in nomenclature, consistency, and broad usage of terminology used in these reports and other donor giving statistical analysis. This new FEP Glossary has been added as an Appendix to the AFP Fundraising Dictionary 2002 (online) and also can be found here.

Examples of the 68 terms in the Glossary are listed below to illustrate the measurement categories included in AFP FEP and GIG studies and reports. In addition, 21 Donor Retention Rate Formulae are listed on pages 6-8 of the Glossary to aid these calculations.

  • donor attrition rate, the number of donors who gave last year but not this year, divided by total number of donors last year.
  • donor participation rate of growth, the increases or decreases in number of donors from one or more years, divided by the number of donors in the initial year.
  • donor recapture rate, the number of previously lapsed donors who renewed this year, divided by total number of donors last year.
  • donor retention rate, the number of donors last year who gave again this year, divided by total number of donors last year.
  • overall rate of growth in giving, the net of gains and losses in giving from last year to this year, divided by total value of gifts received last year.

The AFP Fundraising Effectiveness Project and Growth in Giving Initiative will continue to provide results analysis and comparative benchmarks to aid nonprofit organizational leadership and their fundraising staff to better understand their own performance and, armed with adequate details on their donors’ performance, to increase their overall fundraising results.

James Greenfield
James M. Greenfield, ACFRE, FAHP, is a 40-year veteran fundraiser who is among the first to measure fundraising results for effectiveness and efficiency. He can be reached at:
James Greenfield

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