The 8 Basics of Donor Retention
On LinkedIn there is a group called Nonprofit Donor Retention Best Practices. There are various conversations within this group between members all focused on this topic. One of the members, Jeffrey Haguewood of Sidekick Solutions, recently posted about getting back to basics. In fact, his article is called "Back to Basics to Improve Donor Retention."
There was an interesting stat that caught my eye from the Association of Fundraising Professionals about growth and retention. Its research states that "every $100 gained in 2011 was offset by $100 in losses through attrition." In Haguewood's article, he reminds the industry that sometimes we just need to get back to the basics. I'll let you read it for the detail, but his basics are centered around customer service being the foundation for achieving good retention across your constituent base.
- Listen more.
- Produce valuable content.
- Communicate consistently.
- Recognize constituents' contributions.
- Show outcomes and prove impact.
- Be responsive.
- Exude positivity.
- Put the donor first.
I cannot disagree with any of these. And, with the exception of No. 1, I feel as though this list has stayed the same over the last 15 years. That's not a criticism — it's more of a challenge. Why does retention seem to be so difficult?
Granted, I believe No. 1 has become a major priority over the last five years, but most nonprofits are not asking the right questions. Furthermore, the use of constituent input within our transactional strategies in direct marketing presents additional problems. However, while I believe constituent input is a critical missing link in the retention battle, I don't believe it is the only thing that matters. The other seven items above make a great list.
I reached out to several colleagues from reputable, trusted nonprofits with varying sizes of programs and revenue goals. I asked them to provide responses to how well they believed their programs were doing in the "basics" defined by Haguewood.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.