No Wonder Donor Retention Is Hideous
I’m frustrated. The final part of my planned three-part series on year-end fundraising was intended to focus on receipting. So I dutifully made my year-end donations to seven nonprofits that I donate to at least annually. My rationale for these seven is not all that altruistic. In fact, I chose them because they send a variety of mail and emails that serve as fodder for my own creativity and examples for teaching and writing.
But hey, a donation is a donation, no matter the underlying motivation, right?
Thirty-three days later, I have received two receipts. Two. Out of seven. Yes, I know — it was year-end, volume was up, there were holidays to observe and people took time off to be with their families. I get it.
But I also get that donor retention is in the sewer. Every few days it seems, at least one of the e-newsletters I receive talks about the sorry state of donor retention. What is a fundraiser to do? The funnel is inverted, and the donors are escaping faster than we can pour new ones in to take their place.
At the risk of sounding naive and curmudgeonly, I contend there is a simple way to proactively address the need for better donor retention — start saying thank you to the donors you have. Not once a year when you send out the annual giving statement. Not when they attend an event. And not even during your annual telethon. Instead, say “thank you” quickly and sincerely when the donor gives to you.
Year-end 2014 is far in the distance. But if your receipting effort is shabby at best and downright neglectful at worst, you have to start making changes now. Otherwise, 2015 will be just one more year when you desperately look for the magic bullet to combat donor attrition.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.