Who are the best fundraisers in The Netherlands?

Last week the Central Bureau Fundraising (CBF) in The Netherlands released their 2010 overview of fundraising (read it in Dutch or the English Google translation). Most news about these figures is about general market trends, or growth compared to last year, but never ever really gives you an insight you can work with as a fundraiser. But it’s always interesting to have a closer look, because we can learn more from these figures.

I’m always particularly interested in the organizations that are showing growth figures over a longer period of time, because it shows consistent good performance.

I focused my little analysis on the top 50 fundraising organizations in 2010. In 2006 they raised €760M and in 2010 the same group of organizations raised €936M. This group consists of charities that all raise more than €5M.

By far the biggest charity in The Netherlands is the Cancer Society (KWF) raising €103M in 2010. The distant number 2 is Unicef raising approximately half of that. The Top 10 Fundraising organizations in The Netherlands in 2010 (gross income) looks like this:

This is just to see who is raising the most, but is not saying anything about who is actually doing good in fundraising. So, the next thing we do is take a look who has grown the most compared to last year:

It’s obviously interesting to see who has grown the most last year. But a one-off legacy or a big emergency can easily give you a fabulous result in a single year. So what we want to do is take a look at the last 4 or 5 years, to see the growth trend per organization. So let’s look at a key metric that is much more interesting: the CAGR.

The Compound Annual Growth Rate “…is the year-over-year growth rate of an investment over a specified period of time. It’s an imaginary number that describes the rate at which an investment would have grown if it grew at a steady rate. You can think of CAGR as a way to smooth out the returns.” (source) Basically it gives us an idea which organization is getting good results in their fundraising over a longer period of time.

Let’s take the Cancer Society as an example: in 2006 they raised €69M and in 2010 they raised €103M. This means that the average annual growth rate is 10.6%. If you grow €69M with 10.6% 4 years in a row, you will end up with their 2010 result, €103M. Got it?

If we do this calculation for the entire top 50 we get a list of which organization has grown the most in the period 2006 – 2010. Out of the 50 charities, there are 21 charities that have grown more than the average CAGR of 5.4%. And 13 of those have double digit growth, which I personally find very impressive. Take a look at your own fundraising results and try to grow annually at least 10% four years in a row…

Both Compassion Nederland and KiKa realized explosive growth rates, growing from a low €4M to a high €10M in this period! But obviously two thumbs up for everyone in this list, absolutely great results!

If you want to take it a step further I suggest you make the same calculation, but then exclude the income from legacies, which are also available on the CBF website. I did that exercise (for the top 20 only) and then you’ll see the following double digit CAGRs…

All these non-legacy income CAGRs are higher than the total income CAGRs. For all 5 this means that the total income growth in the past years was mainly caused by non-legacy income and not by their legacy income, which could be considered a healthy development.

The CBF mentioned in their press release that legacy income for charities, apart from some fluctuations, in the period 2001 – 2010 has remained more or less the same. But that doesn’t mean that in specific segments we can see growth. E.g. the current top 10 organizations receiving income from legacies grew from €100M to €119M… (Or does that account for the approximately 20% inflation over the past 10 years?)

It would be great to go into more detail of specific income categories, but the categories used by the CBF (apart from legacies) are too general to make any fair conclusions, in my opinion.

But our homework doesn’t stop here.

The BIG question is: how did the above 13 charities get to these results???
I am sure there are many answers, which have everything to do with the right investments in financial and human resources, increased donor recruitment, starting up new fundraising activities, re-shaping of donor communication, massive public fundraising campaigns and events, the best internal program and people management and a great focus on key metrics like first-year attrition, donor numbers and loyalty…

Definitly not all of this information is available in annual reports, but we can also learn a lot from monitoring what they are actually doing in their contact with (potential) donors. So, I don’t suggest everybody starts calling Frits, Ellen, Margot, Lars, Lilian or Will, some of the great fundraisers who have worked on these successful programs, but I do suggest you become a donor and e-subscriber of their organizations and follow them more closely than you have done ever before…

And please leave your own insights, questions or comments below!

PS. Dutch readers can also check Walter‘s blog post about the CBF figures.

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