Indiana University's Adrian Sargeant, author of great books like "Building Donor Loyalty [Amazon affiliate link], has done statistical research proving this. But even ordinary, non-academicians know this to be true. Every year, a handful of my fundraising colleagues give year-end gifts to 10-12 nonprofits. Constantly, only 7 out of 10 even acknowledge the gift. I'm not talking about a personal note or call. They don't even send an fill-in-the-blank letter!
A sure way to go out of business
Businesses don't survive if they lose 70% of their customers each year. Neither do nonprofits. While successful donor acquisition is necessary, so is effective donor retention.
I was seriously encouraged last week when I spoke with the serial entrepreneur Jay Love. Most recently known as the creator of eTapestry (which was purchased by Blackbaud), he's now going out on his own and launching a brand new donor management database company called Bloomerang. What makes it unique in a landscape of Blackbaud, DonorPerfect, or (gasp) Salesforce, is that Bloomerang is obsessively focused on donor retention.
Love "gets" donor databases, so this has everything a nonprofit needs for managing gifts and relationships. But this time he's brought on Adrian Sargeant and baked all of Sergeant's research right into the database. For example, each time you log into your database, you see your overall donor retention percentage. (Did I mention Adrian Sargeant is redefining retention away from annual giving to meaningful touches every 90 days?)
Bloomerang drills retention down to the individual level by telling you if the donor interacted with an email or social media page or if they passed it on to others. This helps you determining what is meaningful for each donor.
So often, we focus on donor acquisition while neglecting the donors we have. Or worse, we take those donors for granted. So they stop giving.
Ways to keep donors
Last week's Movie Monday, "Getting board members to raise money joyfully," was filled with tips on how one nonprofit effectively engaging their board in thanking donors. It wasn't anything revolutionary. The board members:
- Left voicemails saying thank you,
- Wrote notes showing donor impact, and
- Forwarded emails from the nonprofit.
None of it took much time, but the donors loved it! After a year of intentional donor retention strategy, those donors gave more the second year. And were more convinced their money was making an impact.
Check out the video yourself at: http://www.501videos.com/cmd.php?Clk=4870343
Dance with the one that brung you
Our nonprofits wouldn't exist if it weren't for the generosity of our past donors. So as you plan your yearend fundraising letters and appeals, be sure to thank donors too. No matter how great your staff is, without those donors, your organization wouldn't be able to do its work. You know that.
Let them know that you know.
Let's commit to treating our donors in a way that encourages them to stick with us year after year.