Here we go again.

I’m hearing numerous instances of groups setting fundraising goals using their 2020 results as a baseline. If that’s you, take heed.

Many groups saw significant increases in donations during the pandemic, even if their work had nothing to do with COVID or its economic impacts. There’s a strong case that this pandemic bump is a lot like the Trump bump or the wave of giving that follows a natural disaster. If that’s true, you’re running a big risk using your 2020 numbers as a baseline and if you’re planning an increase over 2020, you’re setting your fundraisers up for probable failure.

Crisis donors generally do not retain well. Industry-wide, first year retention rates are running at about 25%. You can count on disaster giving retention to be significantly less than that. That means it’s reasonable to guess that the vast majority of donors you recruited during the pandemic are not going to give again.

By all means, try to retain those newfound donors. In today’s Agitator Roger Craver, who literally wrote the book on retention fundraising, summarizes the steps you need to take to keep as many pandemic donors as possible. But you’re still going to lose most of them.

Budgeting as if the money will continue to pour in is fundraiser abuse. And it’s also bad planning.