How to Reduce Attrition 50 Percent by Doing (Almost) Nothing
This is how my daughter plays hide and seek. She thinks if she can’t see me, then I can’t see her.
In defense of her strategy, she’s only 2 years old. But isn’t this exactly the same approach we take with the people we label as our supporters? We act like if we didn’t hear about a supporter’s experience—good or bad—then it didn’t happen.
Every day, your organization has numerous interactions with people across all channels. These interactions range from great to neutral, all the way through to terrible.
The experience of that interaction determines at least 50 percent of your supporter’s decision whether to interact with you again.
So what is your organization doing to monitor and act on those experiences, to ensure supporters actually support?
If you’re like the overwhelming majority of charities out there, the answer is “nothing.” And so, for example, a broken experience on your donation page, with your telephone or onsite fundraising, or with donor services, stays broken. Or a great opportunity to build on the warm glow of a positive experience in the moment is lost.
All that we measure and monitor is the transactional data gathered long after the experience happened.
But that data can never tell you just how much money you could have raised, but lost—and it can never tell you why you lost it!
It can’t ever tell you why someone went to your donation page but didn’t donate. It can’t ever tell you what your supporters like about your e-news and how it’s affecting their decisions the next time they receive appeals. It can only tell you what happened. It can never tell you why.
That’s the reason you can’t buy anything these days without being asked for your feedback about the experience. It’s not because the commercial world cares more about its customers than we do our supporters. (Although, based on the fact the commercial world seeks and acts on feedback, and we don’t, who can argue we care more?) It’s because they know that the best time to fix a broken experience or build on a great one is in the very moment that it happens. And because they know that the only way to find out is to ask.
Just the mere act of offering the opportunity to provide feedback causes massive lifts in behavior. Our research, involving donors to more than 250 nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., found that for every donor who provides feedback, his or her retention increases 15 points.
And this happens before you actually do anything about it!
One charity that’s gotten into the business of listening and acting on feedback has reported a 93 percent resolution rate, and twice the rate of upsell and cross-sell for those providing feedback about their supporter care experiences.
Another charity has seen a staggering 50 percent drop in attrition for those given the opportunity to give feedback (not a typo!).
What are we waiting for? If everyone from multinational corporations to my local curry house has gotten into the business of asking for and acting on feedback, isn’t it time we did, too?
Charlie Hulme is managing director of DonorVoice. Part of the team that conducted the sector’s only empirical and applied study into donor loyalty. Today, he works with charity partners to radically alter the donor's experience and subsequent lifetime value.