Active donors, how to count


There are two methods people use, depending on whether it's [A] count active donors right now, or [B] count active donors for a year in the past.


[A]  Report... Donor Information... Active Donors


Report setup panel opens with the current Year+Month in the Renew YrMo window. This entry specifies the earliest donor Renew YrMo to be counted as "Active".  For example, to grant a couple of grace months for late renewers, you would change that first entry to a YrMo value two months earlier.  


There's also an opportunity to do some filtering of donors on Type and Mail codes.  Perhaps you want to exclude records that should not be counted as donors.  For example, complimentary subscriptions, which have an "active" Renew YrMo, but which have no payments, and which may only receive a program guide or newsletter, are not true donors.  If such "comp" records have unique Type or Mail codes, you could Exclude them and get a report that only counts the rest - the true donors.  Select "Exc" and enter one or more code values.


Start the audit, and when it's done, you have a one page report counting donors who are Active, Lapsed 1-12 months and Lapsed 13+ months.  As the report categorizes each donor by their Renew YrMo it updates their Status field (the Donor.Donstat field as seen in query). "A" = Active, "I" = Inactive (lapsed 1-12 months), and "L" = Lapsed (13 or more months).   


Please note: Running "Active Donors" report is the only way to update the DonStat field for the entire donor table, all at once.  Although MemSys mailing programs don't filter records on the DonStat field, it does appear as "Status" on the top of the donor screen.  Therefore, perhaps you would want to run "Active Donors" monthly, to keep the DonStat field accurate for the entire donor table, regardless of each donor's last gift date.


Note (for multi-fund organizations such as dual-station licensees):  "Active Donors" sets the DonStat field per the best possible score a donor can have.  For example, if their TV membership lapsed, but their radio membership is still active, their DonStat field will still be set to "A".


Summary:  "Active Donors" counts active vs. lapsed donors, based on the current value of their Renew YrMo.  It answers the question "How many active donors do I have right now".  When a donor renews, their Renew YrMo changes... making it a moving target.  You can't use this report to answer a question such as: "How many active donors did I have two years ago and last year?".   To get those answers, use method [B] below.

[B] Report... Financials... Daily Register 


This report does not watch the donor Renew YrMo.  But you could, for example, enter a date range spanning the last full calendar year.  For this use, please Uncheck all options in the lower left, so you only get a page or two of final totals.  


After the report is done, please check the count of "Donors" for "All Payments" at the top of the first (or only) totals page.  That count reflects a non-duplicated count of donors with one or more payments in the date range.  This reporting method assumes that one regards a donor as having been "active" within the specified date range.  The nice thing about this method is that the date range can be any period in arrears.  Its best use would be to run it for succeeding 12-month periods in arrears, so it reflects all seasonal fund raising appeals performed during a year.  With that in mind, take into account any fund raising events or appeals that may have been done for the first time in the date range.  Doing so will provide a one-year-average approach to evaluating the effect of new efforts on donation activity.  If a new effort was added last year, compare it to results for the prior year, to gauge its effect on active donors.


You can also do code filtering to narrow down results.  For example, if you added an extra pledge drive last year - not done the prior year - run Daily Register once for each year, limiting it to the source code type for pledge drives.  For example, if all of your pledge drives have source codes that begin with "P", include only "P*" in the first source code filter, when you run it once for last year and again for the prior year.  Doing so will sharpen the focus on active-donor giving for that one revenue source, so it provides a better answer on the effect of adding one more drive.


Just remember NOT to do code filtering if the question is, overall, the number of active donors your organization had.


What if I run a report now using method [A] above, and also run [B] Daily Register for the past 12 months?  Shouldn't they return exactly the same active donor count?


The answer is: not necessarily. And if you think about how they select "active" donors the methods are somewhat apples-and-oranges different.  Some donors renew early, some renew late - a few months after their prior membership lapsed.  So, the latest Renew YrMo they have in the donor record may not be the exact anniversary of their last renewal gift.  That's a basic fact of life in annual-membership fund raising, and it introduces some slippage in counting active donors.  The Renew YrMo a donor has now is often not exactly 12 months after the date_posted of their last renewal gift.  Therefore, although for a current time period, the two reporting methods could return active counts that are reasonably close, it would be remarkable if they matched exactly.  If you need to adopt a consistent accounting policy over time, it would be good to always use method [B] since the Date_Posted field in a payment almost never changes.  That way, for purposes of counting Active memberships over time, you are always comparing apples-to-apples.