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Latest Donor Relations Survey: What Does It Say About Our Profession?

By Lynne Wester

Every two years, the donor relations community comes together and provides one of the best resources for our profession—the Pulse of Donor Relations Survey. It is a labor of love, answering questions that may not seem important at first but, when placed in the context of the profession, become a seminal work to understand our work and how it changes over time.

I am most grateful to the 900 of you who took the time to contribute your expertise. Although the summary has been delayed a bit by the end of 2021 pandemic surge, here it is. I have many observations with the 2021 pulse, most of which are that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The consistency across the years for many answers shows the bedrock nature of our work.

However, this year, we have the most seismic change in one answer since the start of the survey 9 years ago. This shift took place in how we deliver our reporting to donors. Since the pandemic began, we now deliver reports digitally in a huge shift away from print for the first time ever. Software like ODDER, Fundriver Impact, Yearly, Mythos and others have made this easier than ever before with a more positive donor experience. If you’re still the 40% printing and mailing your reports, it's time to catch up!

Secondly, like many, our industry has been hit hard by the great resignation. As you can see on page 27, 34% of shops have lost a staff member. What are you doing to replace them? You can post on our gigs board and use the salary data to help you, or our team can take on the work through our outsourcing services. The only caveat to this change is that on page 26, we still have a way to go when it comes to flexible and remote work.

Finally, the most disheartening part of the survey results for me are found on page 28 concerning DEI efforts in our shops. It looks like our organizations are still stuck in the conversation or lip service portion of the work as 55% of our shops have not taken action and changed any of their practices in light of DEI. We still have a long way to go.

Keep up the good work, folks. Know that the DRG Group is here to support you and are most grateful for you engaging with us and the survey as always. Should you have questions or need information drilled down on by industry, level, shop size, etc. Please reach out, and we would be happy to help!

You can find the full survey report here. What results surprise you the most? What are your key takeaways or statistics you'll use to benchmark or lobby for change at your organization? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Lynne and the DRG Group


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