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Giving is Up. Donor Retention is Down. What to Do?

By June 14, 2017December 6th, 2022Communication, Donor Engagement
How Support for Causes Changed

Click image to view full size. Image source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Donations to charitable organizations grew 1.4% to $390 billion in 2016, according to Giving USA and this post from The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The average donor retention rate in 2016 was .5% below what it was in 2015 – 45%, according to this post from Bloomerang about the Fundraising Effectiveness Project new report.

Good news? Not-so-good news?

What to make of these two stats?

Retention Rates Have Been Consistently Weak

Click image to view full size. Image source: Bloomerang.

My Take

• In our sector we have focused more on growing donor lists than building relationships.

We are doing a disservice to our supporters and those served by NOT focusing on donor retention or what I prefer to call “donor inspiration.”

• The single most effective tool you have to increase your fundraising is to focus on keeping your current donors happy, talking about why they are inspired, attending your events, and FEELING something about how it feels to give – – Preferably feeling great about it!

What To Do?

1. Know the names, faces, and giving history of your top 50-75 donors.
Increase Donor Retention by Having Board Members Make Thank You Calls
2. Have your board ALSO know the names, faces, and giving history of those donors. How? See #3.

3. Have board members call to thank first time and major gift donors within 24 hours of receiving their gift.

4. Create the three charts shown here to examine & discuss ASAP. Then make a simple plan and create next steps to do #1, #2 & #3 above.

5. Talk about what it takes to do your work. Sharing your money story is critical for your community to know there is more to do.

6. Get into action NOW. Don’t wait until “you have time” to get started. You actually don’t have time to NOT get into action.

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