Want to Retain Your Donors? Think 'ROI'
A dependable revenue stream that grows—ah, paradise!
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My recent conversation with Tonya reminded me of the aphorism that my grandfather often intoned, "We are our own worst enemies."
Tonya is the development director for a health-related organization in the Northeast.
Tonya's organization has been bleeding donors for the past several years. The pace of loss has quickened recently. Apparently unmoved for some time, the CEO and board chair are now concerned and have turned to Tonya to solve the problem.
The state of affairs at Tonya's nonprofit is pretty typical. Nationwide, donor retention has dropped to just under 40 percent for one-year renewals. Compare that to 95-plus percent for commercial firms.
Sense a disconnect?
It took only a brief conversation to determine what is underlying the nonprofit's poor donor retention.
As with many other organizations, the focus is on acquiring new supporters. Whether it's real donors through a direct ask—by mail, in person or by telephone—or through the invitation to participate in an event, it's all about getting someone to give at least once.
What's driving—and aggravating—Tonya's situation is how her organization views money. As with so many other worthy nonprofits, money is seen as necessary only to pay expenses—immediate expenses.
Money is used to pay bills, whether it's payroll, utilities or the costs incurred from fundraising efforts. It's all the same to the organization's leaders.
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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