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Changing Fundraising Objectives

Embracing the Shift Towards Retention and Engagement 

In this blog we look at how objectives for Individual Giving Fundraising are changing, carrying much more focus on retention and engagement of supporters compared to previous years.

In the dynamic landscape of fundraising, trends and objectives undergo constant evolution, shaped by the ever-changing socio-economic climate and the evolving preferences of donors. As the dawn of a new year unfolds, fundraising strategies are navigating a new wave of priorities. It’s therefore worth exploring how individual giving fundraising has evolved in recent years. 

Woods Valldata have run an Individual Giving Fundraising Survey with respondents from a wealth of different charity types and sizes for the last 4 years. In 2023, the 140 responders reflected an interesting tilt towards a refined focus on retention and engagement strategies. This was further reinforced during the Woods Valldata The Lowdown: Individual Giving Insights 2023 webinar – where a poll of the 349 attendees revealed a similar switch on emphasis towards retention.
This blog explores this theme of shifting priorities more, including the experiences of the webinar panel on the day: Helen Daw from Woods Valldata, Rufus Cruft from The Royal British Legion, Jo Howard from Sightsavers and Poppy Obokoh from The Air Ambulance Service.

Retention takes centre stage

The Lowdown 2023_Fundraising Objectives

The most notable trend that emerged from the survey and webinar discussion was the greater emphasis on supporter retention. The survey data showed an increased importance on retaining donors - from 49% of responders seeing this as a main individual giving fundraising objective in 2021 rising to a significant 64% in 2023. This shift resonates deeply within the fundraising arena, indicating a conscious effort to nurture existing relationships, against the current economic climate.

Supporter retention: the driving force

Poppy Obokoh, retention strategy specialist, emphasized the importance of securing committed income through nurturing givers. Her team pay special attention to metrics such as second gift rates, reactivation of lapsed segments, and response rates. All these help her understand what needs to be done to improve retention efforts. Poppy shared that a recent initiative, introducing a supporter newsletter, actually reduced direct debit cancellations at a critical time in the programme, reinforcing the effectiveness of tailored communication.

The relevance of engagement and development

Rufus Cruft, Director of Fundraising at the Royal British Legion, explored the connection between engagement, retention, and long-term financial gains. His insights shed light on the significance of holistic engagement, wherein supporters connect not just with products but with the organizational cause. His emphasis on looking at more engagement options rather than just those offered in individual giving, really highlighted the importance of supporter connections.

A close-up of senior couple showing hand heart sign, representing the charity supporter journey

Acquisition challenges in the current climate

The panel at The Lowdown 2023 Webinar all acknowledged the increased challenges in donor acquisition as a result of the current economic climate. To differing degrees there was consent that there was an increased reticence among some individuals to engage in new giving, probably stemming from reduced disposable incomes, but that some people were still giving and some at a much higher level.  Cold acquisition is still worth pursuing, if not for immediate gain, then for building relationships towards legacy pledge and giving. In fact, The Air Ambulance Service had seen a sizeable increase in legacy giving as a result of recent cold acquisition activity.


Over the last year, we can see that fundraising objectives have changed. The ever-increasing importance and focus on supporter retention and stewardship reflects the current economic conditions and cost conditions in the market.  That said, acquisition still has its place with equal opportunities and challenges associated with this form of individual giving activity – and it is perhaps in looking at retention and audiences that a more focused and targeted acquisition strategy can yield greater returns both shorter and longer term.

Find out more

If you're interested in the insights from the Woods Valldata Individual Giving Fundraising Survey and the discussion during The Lowdown webinar, you can watch the webinar now, on demand.

Watch The Lowdown webinar now on demand

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