Why, Oh, Why Do We Have to Keep Writing About Donor Retention?
Years ago, Adrian Sargeant told us in books, speeches, articles and many more ways that, "Improving donor retention by just 10 percent can double the lifetime value of your donor database!"
Bloomerang ran the numbers on the averages for the industry, and here's what it came up with — it's plain and simple. If your organization is not prioritizing this over everything else, you are focused in the wrong area. (See image at the top of the page.)
From Bloomerang: According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals' latest Fundraising Effectiveness Project data, the average donor retention rate is 41 percent. Using a sample set of 5,000 donors with an average donation of $200, what happens to donation totals if we increase that rate by just 10 percent?
Problem 3: Inability to make changes in strategy
In addition to looking at your communication schedule and the types of donors and their behaviors, take a hard look at your "strategy." In this instance I'm talking about messaging and channel integration. Perhaps the first look needs to be at the communication experience you are providing across all of your channels. If your organization has not taken great care to integrate your channels, you could not only be over-touching your donors, but you could be sending mixed and confusing messages.
Integration means you not only look at the calendar and when people are being touched, but how the messages from one touch to another build a solid case for giving and a consistent approach to building awareness and raising funds. And while you look at those messages and how integrated they are with each other, make sure you take the time to understand if they are the appropriate messages for your donors.
For years and years we have followed a pattern in this industry. Something works for one organization, and everyone tries it eventually — that's how we ended up with everyone having an annual fund, everyone having a match challenge, etc. But in the end, what matters most is if your messaging is connecting with your donors. Does it motivate them to not just give a first gift but continue to confirm their decision to give so they keep giving? Ask yourselves, have you talked with your donors lately about your mission and your messaging? Have you asked your donors why they are giving and what makes them not give? Have you talked with your donors who have stopped giving to make sure you understand why? Take the time to do this, and then apply those findings back on top of your strategy.
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.