What if we just called them part of the family?

Family Enjoys a Fourth of July Holiday in a Park at Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, Which Is 12 Miles West of New Ulm...A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival. I asked some of the nonprofit industry’s top bloggers how they kept donors coming back. 16 experts shared their best tips.

7 out of 10 don’t come back

One of the shocking statistics is that on average 70% of donors don’t make a second gift to a nonprofit.

7 out of 10.

I then had the opportunity to chat on a Google Hangout with John Haydon about this problem. I mentioned an interview I’d done with Adrian Sargeant for the Donor Retention Project where he talks about the problem of our verbiage around “annual donors.”

What if we just called them part of the family?

John and I wondered what would happen if we stop calling them “annual donors.” Doing that seems to focus on the one gift over the relationship. “Did they give this year?” defaults to “Ok, we don’t have to talk to them for 12 months.”

Would you join us in thinking about donors as parts of the family? That the people who fund the mission are as important as the employees who carry the mission out?

When you do this, you’ll feel much more comfortable inviting them to invest as opportunities arise. Whether or not 12 months has gone by.

How would that transform your fundraising for 2013?

Two tools to help with donor retention

16 experts gave advice on how to keep donors coming back. You can see them all at the Nonprofit Blog Carnival post at:

The gang that brought you 100 Donors in 90 Days is heading back into the studio with new experts to work on “The Donor Retention Project.” The Donor Retention Project is going to be to donor retention what 100 Donors in 90 Days was to donor acquisition. Revolutionary.

Sign up to learn more at http://DonorRetentionJazz.com/.

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. 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! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/


  1. Love this post Marc. And, when I worked in the trenches (not all that long ago) I tried this! Whoa! Culture change is not easy. Folks were so wedded to the "Annual Giving Campaign" that simply using the term "Individual Donors" or "Individual Giving" fell flat for them. Couldn't move the needle. But, I agree, the term "annual" does imply we only have to "touch" them once a year. I similarly abhor the title of "Major Gifts Director". Who wants to be contacted by such a person? And what does it imply about the other donors. Are they "Minor Donors"? I renamed everyone a "Director of Philanthropic Gifts". After all, everyone -- as long as they love humankind -- can be a philanthropist. Thanks for the provocative thinking. I look forward to the upcoming project.

    • Glad you agree!

      Early in my career, I was promoted from "Alumni Director" to "Director of Major Gifts." I too said, "Yuck. Who'd want to be visited by the 'major gifts' guy?"

      I left the title for internal communication (and my resume) but had cards and website read, "Director of Individual Gifts."

What would you add?