Thursday, January 22, 2015

Radically Transforming Donor Retention

Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Texas with an amazing organization. One of the key changes of culture that evolved out of our work together was that the amount of the gift the donor gave was the LEAST important part of their story, that we needed to look at their behavior first.

Here's why: In the latest fundraising effectiveness project report from Bloomerang which you can find here, the numbers are scary:


This is NOT sustainable for our industry. Donor retention is more than just a buzzword, it's a lifestyle. If we move the needle on donor retention, then the rest of our culture of philanthropy changes. And revenue changes along with it, and this makes fundraisers happy. 
What is our role in this? Our role is to radically transform the way we perform donor relations. It's no longer ok to focus our efforts at the top of the pyramid, regardless of the fact that over 80% of our revenue comes from the top. If we don't split our time equally, yup 50/50, then those entry level donors will NEVER grow to be major donors if they don't make a second gift. So it's our job, our pleasure,  to examine their behavior and what it tells us. Look at the following behaviors and make sure you have a corresponding donor relations touch for each one:
  • First Time Donors
  • Loyal Donors of more than 5 years
  • Donors who upgrade their gift by 25% or more
  • Donors who have lapsed and then returned
  • Monthly or sustaining donors who make more than 4 gifts a year
  • Online only/digital donors
There are samples of many of these on my site, I'd love to see yours. What I'd also like to see disappear is charts of what we do for donors based on their amount, that can be a factor later, after we've looked at their behavior FIRST. We need to show them we notice them and that they are unique and they will come back, and so will their gifts...

Time for a radical shift in the way we behave, and the donors will follow.
What are your thoughts?


1 comment:

  1. What would consider a lapse in a gift? Over a year since their last? More time?