The 3 R's of the Engage Conference: Retention, Risk and Reward
I have been with FundRaising Success in some capacity for more than five years now, and the thing that has really stood out to me more than anything is how willing the wonderful people in the fundraising sector are to talk about and share their experiences with one another. It's been invaluable to me as someone who came to this publication with no background whatsoever in fundraising prior to joining the FS team.
That sharing of knowledge, ideas, successes and failures was on full display last week at our inaugural Engage Conference held at the beautiful WHYY building here in Philadelphia. We were extremely lucky to have such a wonderful panel of speakers, including the keynote by fundraising legend Roger Craver; three case studies from Operation Smile, American Bible Society and Human Rights Campaign; and lively roundtables and a Q&A with members of our Editorial Advisory Board and more.
Listening and interacting with the presenters, I noticed that three themes seemed to emerge among all the presentations — retention, risk and reward, or the three R's.
Retention has been a buzzword for a while in the industry, and it particularly picked up steam as many organizations cut acquisition and focused on retaining their donors. As we all know, the cost to retain a current donor is much less than the cost of acquiring a new donor. We also know that without acquiring new donors, an organization's donor pool will eventually dry up, so it's important to do both.
In his keynote, Roger Craver focused a lot on retention — no surprise if you follow his posts on The Agitator. As only Roger can, he laid out his keynote by telling a fairy tale, and then — again, as only Roger can — made his feelings about the industry clear. And he continually hammered the point home about retention, and retaining donors in the right way. Proper cultivation is necessary to turn first-time donors into loyal, caring donors.