Retention? Enough Already!
Donors who participated in focus groups revealed “a fundamental trust in nonprofits to do good work and fight the good fight, and this trust may sustain donors’ commitment in the face of onslaughts from the opposition or the seeming insurmountability of a problem. This sense of trust, along with donors’ personal concern about various causes, can carry loyalty and attachment only so far, however. Indeed, donors have high expectations of charities and public interest groups, in terms of the steps they should take to maintain donors’
support in the future.”
The report stated that there was an important lesson to be drawn from this finding. “Supporters must be able to rely on more than inherent trust in an organization to know that their contributions are indeed sustaining the group’s work and helping to make real progress. More than any other action, in fact, donors say that the public interest groups and charities they support must be more accountable regarding how they spend contributions (an assertion backed by 79 percent of all donors).”
Your file of baby boomers behaves now just like it told you it would in 1999. War, stock market crashes, world disasters, a recession, four presidential elections and a host of other things that have happened outside of your control have not changed the one thing donors want most. They want you to be accountable in how you spend their money. Go figure.
Retention tips of the month
Your donors want to love you as much today as they did when they made those first gifts. So, what are my retention tips of the month?
- Retention is not the only metric you should be concerned about — overall file health is often overlooked. Take a look at these metrics, too. Are you upgrading folks? Building a monthly giving program? Raising more money this year than you did last year?
- Analyze what your donors are giving to and what they aren’t. What are they telling you by the results you already have about what motivates them to give to your organization?
- Examine and re-examine your acknowledgment program. The best way to lose donors forever is to not thank them properly for the gifts they just gave you.
- Evaluate your messaging. Don’t bring donors in on subject A and then only talk to them about subjects X, Y and Z. And tell them about the people, animals, planet or plants that they help. Please tell them with a story and not just facts.
- Be accountable to your donors. Tell them how you spend their money. Make them feel good about the choice they made when they accepted your first offer to change the world. Tell them about the work you’re doing together and why their money makes a difference. Let them know you appreciate them and that without them your work could not be done.
These tips may not be sexy or cutting-edge or have fancy names. But they also don’t cost thousands of dollars to implement.