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DIY: Calculating Donor LTV and Annual Retention Rates

on Jan 22, 2016

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I’ve got a job for you, if you haven’t done it already. By the end of January, calculate your donor LTV (Life Time Value or Long Term Value, I prefer the latter) and annual retention rates of your donor file over the past 4 years.

It doesn’t have to be as hard as it might sound.

Click here to download my Excel LTV worksheet. It includes a general query criteria that should give you a sense of how to start pulling the data yourself. I first saw this particular layout (see below) in a Cornerstone Global File Audit, and decided to replicate it with my own data. Here’s the layout:

ltv and ret sheet

25 More Donor LTV Tools, Articles, and Resources:

Fundraising101: The (almost) magic formula of Lifetime Value estimation (includes a free Excel template)
AFP Madison: Free LTV Excel Worksheet
Fundraising101/Kissmetrics: Crystal ball fundraising: Lifetime Value (includes an infographic)
Persuant: Lifetime Value Calculator (interactive tool)
Re:Charity: What is Lifetime Value? (includes free spreadsheet & calculator)
Direct Marketing Association: A 360 Degree View of Donor Value (PDF presentation)
Agitator: LTV … The GPS For Fundraisers
Harvard Business: Free Customer Lifetime Value Calculator
ThinkCS: ‘Quick and Dirty’ Lifetime Value
Retention Fundraising: See Appendix C
DBMarketing: LTV and RFM for Nonprofits (Powerpoint Presentation)
eJewish Philanthropy: The Value of a Lifetime
Charity Science: Donor Stewardship (PDF, see Section 1)
Clairification: Your Secret to Mindblowing Fundraising
FLS Fundraising: Donor Lifetime Value Part One (and Part two)
Blackbaud: 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report (PDF)
Nonprofit Easy: The Long Term Value of a donor
Michael Rosen: Building Donor Loyalty: What’s New?
DonorVoice: A Dangerous Myth – Over-solicitation causes poor retention.
Bloomerang: How Do Giving Habits Impact Donor Lifetime Value?
Paradysz: Growing Long Term Value Through Gift Optimization Strategies (presentation)
NewSci: Time for New Thinking About Donor Retention
Analyticalones: The Age of Acquisition
ADRP: Why Retention Matters (PDF)

This post was by Brock Warner. Currently in Toronto, Brock works to foster and place value on philanthropy, no matter the size of gift. As a fundraising professional, Brock values the ‘how’ as much as the ‘how much’ and to see our hard work be a catalyst for positive change. Connect with him on Twitter at @BrockWarner or on LinkedIn.


  1. Brian

    February 17, 2017

    Post a Reply

    When you use this spreadsheet to calculate the value of a donor – an annual campaign donor for example – do you just include gifts to annual campaign solicitations or do you use any gifts the donor makes? I.e. to events or capital campaigns. It kind of skews the results on some of my calculations.

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