So I'm an admitted fundraising nerd. That's ok, I tell myself all the time. I base many of my findings on data, I love data. Data doesn't lie and is difficult to dispute. I've been tracking some interesting data for the past 6 months and I have some findings to share with you. It involved donor retention and the fact that our first time donors are leaving us in alarming amounts. Remember, according to the wonderful people at Bloomerang, first time donor retention hovers at 23%. When we ask donors why they don't give again, over-solicitation is the #1 reason.
Well, I now have living proof of that. I constantly ask non-profits what their ask to thank ratio is. Folks, it's really outta whack. Not just hard asks, but those supposed "soft" asks too. Remember, there is NO such thing as a "soft" ask to a donor, that's like being "partially" pregnant. An ASK is an ASK. I gave numerous gifts online on Giving Tuesday, you can see the information here and here is my experience with a few nonprofits from the list.
Since December, I've received 2 thank yous, and one receipt. So I'll count that at 3. Since December I've received 19 solicitations. 3 in the postal mail, and 16 emails. 8 emails in December alone.
ASKS: 19 THANKS: 3 DONOR RETENTION: NOT LIKELY
Since December I've received 3 thank yous and one receipt. That's 4. I've also received one solicitation.
ASKS: 1 THANKS: 4 DONOR RETENTION: VERY LIKELY
Since December I've received a WHOPPING 44 solicitations. And 2 thank yous including the receipt. 40 emails, 4 in the postal mail. In December, after I made my gift on the 3rd, I received 23 ASKS IN DECEMBER ALONE.
ASKS: 44 THANKS: 2 DONOR RETENTION: SERIOUSLY?
The opposite is also true. I haven't heard from some of the organizations I gave to in December at all since the day I gave.
Charity Newsies, American Pit Bull Foundation and Caromont Health:
All sent thank yous the day I gave and have never re-solicited me.
ASKS: 0 THANKS: 1 DONOR RETENTION: NOT LIKELY
Many of you are probably asking, what is the correct ask to thank ratio? I don't have a magic answer for you. I think it honestly depends on your donor base. But I can tell you the following: You can't ask again until you've properly thanked the donor and explained the impact of THEIR gift. (See Charity Water for an example of this done correctly. Their ratio is 5 ASKS to 8 THANKS so far). The first step is identifying your ask to thank ratio, not hard asks or soft ones but asks, period. In thanks you can count a receipt, an acknowledgment and any impact or gratitude piece, I'm generous here.
I would love to hear your thoughts and you can post anonymously the results of your test, ratios abound!