Donor retention: Dance with the ones who brung ya

Picture of money going down a drain of a kitchen sinkDid you know the average nonprofit loses 7 donor out of 10 every year?!

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.

About Marc Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear!, director of The Nonprofit Academy, and founder of FundraisingCoach.com. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

Comments

  1. For more on Bloomerang, check out this post on The Agitator
    http://www.theagitator.net/dont-miss-these-posts/at-last-a-crm-system-designed-for-retention/

  2. I have studied the above product and many others that have made this claim. Unfortunately it is not remotely close a tool designed for enhanced retention. I respect Adrian's work, however there is only one person who has actually produced the highest increase in donor retention in the last decade and it is not Adrian. There is a significant distinction in discussing the theories of retaining donors and having done it. This is true for those designing products as well. I applaud your wonderful focus on retention....I position I have held since 1998. All the best

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Donor Retention: Dance With The Ones Who Brung Ya: Marc Pittman discuss why non-profits need to focus more on donor retention. It’s all to easy to get enamored with new donors and forget the friends we’ve had for a long time. [...]

  2. [...] Donor Retention: Dance With The Ones Who Brung Ya: Marc Pittman discuss why non-profits need to focus more on donor retention. This holds true for churches too. It’s easy to get?enamored?with new attenders and members. Don’t forget your long-time members who fund your ministry. [...]

  3. [...] Donor Retention: Dance With The Ones Who Brung Ya: Marc Pittman discuss why non-profits need to focus more on donor retention. It’s all to easy to get enamored with new donors and forget the friends we’ve had for a long time. [...]

  4. [...] acquisition and retention. It won favorable reviews from two prominent fundraising consultants, Marc Pitman and Roger Craven. [...]

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