Unsustainable Trends Part II: The Aging File

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My business partner Bill’s blog Unsustainable Trends seems to have struck a chord with many of our friends in development roles. To continue this conversation, let’s take a look at one of the reasons your donor file might not be generating as much revenue as in the past.

Your donors are over the hill, literally. The chart below shows an example from a typical client database. On the vertical axis, I have plotted each donor’s 5-year value from 2008-2012 (0-12 month active donors, scored at start of 2008). On the horizontal axis, we have the donors’ ages on January 1st, 2008. Here’s that hill we are talking about.

age graph

It doesn’t take more than a second to notice that there is a distinct downward trend in LTV starting just after the age of 60.

Here’s where you should get really freaked out. The chart below shows the average age of a donor on that same file by lifecycle and year.


 Before running this data, I expected to see Multi-Years aging. This was no surprise and I thought perhaps that was the extent of our problem. However, what scares me even more is that there is no help on the way. The rising red line for new donor age is the most alarming piece of this study. In an ideal world we’d see the red line moving in the opposite direction, meaning that we have found a way to tap into a younger donor base. At the minimum, we’d want to see this line remain flat, meaning that we are catching people at a particular stage in life as they reach it.

Non-profits need to unlock the secret to acquiring younger donors or this is another Unsustainable Trend.

To find out how age is affecting your fundraising efforts, give us a buzz. We can help.

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