It’s Twitter question of the month time. Mandy O’Neill (@mandyoneill) of the Connected Nonprofit asks two questions: Is there an average benchmark for repeat event participants, and for event donors that convert to recurring donors. Two great questions!

Among the last seven run/walk/ride fundraising programs Event 360 has worked on, the average number of repeat participants was 34% and the median was 30%. This is consistent with Blackbaud’s donorCentrics Events Benchmarking group where five walk programs averaged a 40% participant retention rate.  Blackbaud’s study also reported that multi-year participants raised more than new participants.

When building a retention program, it’s important to remember to segment your fundraisers and your $0 participants. With limited resources, it makes sense to focus your retention efforts on the people most likely to fundraise again.

To Mandy’s second question about converting event donors to organizational donors; unfortunately, a benchmark doesn’t exist here. We have seen this as high as 80-90% on some programs, but this is by no means a benchmark, and your mileage will vary. Ideally, the median number of donors per event participant should be at least three to four. If the majority of participants have only one donor, then you should examine how eff ectively you are using tools to encourage participants to ask for money.

While it is often the case that an event donor’s motivation to support an organization is secondary to that of supporting the participant, this is by no means a reason to disregard such individuals. In fact, such a donor is very similar to an individual introduced to you by a friend at a social event. The burden rests with you to further engage this individual if you wish to pursue a deeper relationship and, if you do not take the first step to engage, chances are the relationship will never move beyond the event.

We are putting the finishing touches on a white paper on this topic. Stay tuned to the blog for it’s release in early January.

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