Each Donor Is a 'Guest of Honor' in Your Fundraising Budget
At some point in the year, every fundraiser deals with the dreaded budget. You may put one together, have input into one someone else builds or (horrors!) have no input until it is handed to you — and you don't know whether to laugh, cry or just resign.
Budgeting as a fundraiser can be challenging. Too often, the overall goals seem to be (1) spend less and (2) raise more. It's as if it was as easy as simply willing it to happen … I am unable to solve that problem for you, but here are six groups you need to be sure have a starring role in your next fiscal year budget.
Not-yet-your-donors: Fight for budget for donor acquisition. I won't repeat all the facts about attrition, but if you need ammunition for making the case for acquisition, here's the bottom line: On average, six in 10 donors don't renew their giving year over year. Find out your retention rate if you don't think those studies relate to you; it's usually shocking (and not in a good way).
Once you know your attrition rate, it's fairly easy to calculate when you'll basically have no donors left unless you make some serious changes. Trust me — that's a graphic that can convince almost anyone to open the purse a bit more for the acquisition budget.
First-time donors: Once you get the first gift, how are you going to make sure these people stay with you? (If you think attrition rates are bad, check out rates for new donor conversion. On second thought, don't — the shock may keep you up all night.)
A good second-gift conversion program begins with the receipt and continues with special language and offers to get your new donors to repeat those gifts within three to six months (or maybe a year if you are mainly reliant on annual membership renewals). There's no off-the-shelf program for this; you need to design a program that makes sense for your donor demographics and mission. Just remember that it's not enough to acquire them; you have to have a plan for keeping them.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.