2024 Rescue Missions Benchmark Report


As we noted in our end-of-year recap for rescue missions, economic conditions across the globe put a strain on many nonprofits, including rescue missions and human and social services organizations.  

The economy began to stabilize in the second half of 2023, leaving some uncertainty about how the year-end giving season would play out. Rescue missions had a strong showing on GivingTuesday, and now we have the data from 14 rescue missions to share the full-year results.   

Here is a look at our top three takeaways: 

1. Rescue missions remain in a strong position

Much like food banks and other human and social service causes, rescue missions continue to see a stabilization from the highs of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Full-program revenue is down 6% year over year. However, the rescue missions analyzed are still better off today than they were before the pandemic by $10.5 million, for an average of $750,000 more revenue per organization.  

2. Donor value hits an all-time high

The average donor value at rescue missions reached $301—the highest point in history. Donor value is up $84 (38.7%) over FY19. As fewer donors participate in philanthropy, this trend is expected to continue.  

This increase in value can be attributed largely to a lift in average gift size (up 21% over FY19 and 5% over FY22) and gift frequency (up 14% over FY19 and 2% over FY22). 

3. Retention stabilizes, but acquisition is soft

After two years of declining retention rates, rescue missions saw a stabilization from 47.6% in FY22 to 47.3% in FY23.  

However, the overall donor universe still declined by 11% due to industrywide challenges in acquiring new donors 


Based on this benchmark data, RKD Group’s strategy and decision science experts developed three recommendations for rescue mission programs going forward: 

1. Continue to focus on core donors

Core donors are those who have given to an organization for two or more consecutive years, and they are your most valuable audience.  

Rescue missions saw the number of core donors increase by 1% in FY23 after two years of declines. This is good news, but further efforts can still be made to improve retention and lapsed prevention.  

2. Adopt a recapture-first mindset

Speaking of lapsed donors, the struggles in acquisition require a shift to invest more in lapsed recapture. This approach paid off in FY23, with a 32% lift in recapture revenue over FY22.   

There is a great opportunity here to reactivate a large group of “warm” prospects who have previously given, compared to “cold” prospects in acquisition.  

3. Use LTN to guide your path

Long-term net (LTN) is a data-mining tool designed to assess—at the pointofacquisition—the net value of a donor across five years. LTN helps nonprofit organizations investmore wisely to achieve a higher financialreturn.  

Through this lens, we can look at factors like seasonality, age and wealth clusters to better optimize growth.   


In the following sections, we’ll review the data from 2023 and close the report with a more detailed look at the future recommendations for growth.  

About the Report

What we measured 

The 2024 Rescue Mission Benchmark Report contains full-file data from 14 RKD mission clients across the United States from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2023. The data includes overall program metrics, like total revenue, active donors, new donors, retention rate, average gift size, donor value and gift frequency.   

Trends are based on all donors and all gift types. Donors with a single gift of $10,000 or more were excluded.  

Revenue Growth

Total Revenue


Three years out from the dramatic influx of generosity to rescue missions during the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue remains up 15% over pre-pandemic conditions in FY19.   

Revenue in FY23 was down 6% year over year, roughly $5.2 million. Nevertheless, mission revenue is in a stronger position today than yesterday (FY19).   




Much of the revenue growth since FY19 can be attributed to rescue missions’ cultivation programs.   

Cultivation is up $11.2 million since FY19, but it declined $4.2 million (6.3%) year over year despite flat retention.  Strengthening stewardship programs has been an area of focus, enhancing donor experience by expressing thanks and reporting back on the impact of donations.  




New donors accounted for $5.8 million in FY23—which is 7.0% of gross revenue. That’s $1.7 million less than FY22 (-22%) due to soft response rates, a universal shift across the nonprofit sector.  




Recaptured donors accounted for $3.0 million in FY23—3.6% of overall revenue. That’s a 31.6% improvement over FY22. 

Donor Growth

Active Donors


Active donors are down 13% year over year, hitting their lowest point in five years. The decline in FY23 is due to regression in both acquisition and cultivation.  


Average Gift


Average gift size reached an all-time high in FY23 at $103, which is 5.1% higher than FY22 and 21.2% higher than FY19.  



Looking at our different donor lifecycles, we see that the average gift peaked in all facets of the program—acquisition (+7.1% over FY22), cultivation (+5.2%) and recapture (+27.2%).  


Gift Frequency


Gift frequency also reached a new all-time high of 2.92 in FY23. That represents a 2.4% lift over FY22 and a 14.1% jump since FY19.    



Cultivation led the way with a gift frequency of 3.32 in FY23, which is a 2.8% increase over FY22 and a 12.2% lift over FY19. Acquisition (-4.4%) and recapture (-3.9%) both declined in year-over-year gift frequency.  


Donor Value


Driven by gift frequency and average gift, donor value also reached its highest point in history. The donor value of $301 in FY23 is a $21 (7.5%) increase over FY22 and an incredible $84 (38.7%) lift over FY19.  



All lifecycles showed strength in donor value, contributing to a new ceiling in FY23. Compared to FY19, acquisition is up $40, recapture is up $51 and cultivation is up $87. 




After two years of declining retention, FY23 saw the rate stabilize at 47.3%. However, the donor universe still declined by 11%. 


Core donors


Core donor retention improved to 72.4% in FY23, but that wasn’t strong enough to offset fewer donors coming in through acquisition.  

About RKD Group

RKD Group is North America's leading fundraising and marketing solutions provider to hundreds of growth-focused nonprofit organizations. With five decades of experience, RKD leverages technology, advanced data science and award-winning strategic and creative leadership to accelerate net revenue growth, build long-term donor relationships and drive the best return on investment.