Are You Measuring Donor Retention Correctly?
I recently had the chance to read through and communicate with the team at NewSci, a "Big Data" company with solutions for nonprofits. I found NewSci through a thought-provoking discussion on LinkedIn titled "NewSci Redefines Donor Retention After 5 Year Study."
I imagine anyone who saw that title clicked through to see what it was all about.
The discussion and resulting conversation with the team was very interesting. NewSci calls into question whether retention measurements that only look at the financial (i.e., donations) engagement are really an indicator of whether a donor is low- or high-value. For years, all of you know that I have been pushing organizations to place a level of value on the non-financial engagement. I think the approach described by Jay Goulart, co-Founder and chief data artist at NewSci, can be a great step toward understanding value.
The hypothesis is, says Goulart, "By identifying people who are engaged even when donations stop, fundraisers can develop strategies to continue nurturing the relationship knowing at some point there is a high likelihood giving will resume and perhaps at higher levels. Also by identifying relationships in trouble early, work can be done to rebuild it before it is too late. We believe Big Data's ability to look across silos and incorporate unstructured data from sources like social media makes this type of relationship monitoring possible and practical."
Frankly, I love this concept because at minimum it starts to build a conversation around the non-financial activity that happens. I've led many conversations with nonprofits around assigning value, and speaking from history, it always gets hung up in the definition of value. Frankly, the fundraisers don't want anything to compete with their hard dollars and cents approach. In reality, we are not trying to imply an advocacy engagement (as an example) is worth a specific financial value — we are simply trying to say that an advocacy engagement is a part of the formula for understanding the long-term value (LTV) of a constituent.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.