Tell donors they matter to keep them on board

If you’ve ever used face-to-face fundraising (often called “chugging” in the UK, for “charity mugging”) to get donors, you know it’s a pretty good way to get donors outside the traditional channels. You also that that the Achilles’ heel of face-to-face is the extremely low retention of the donors. This is because of two factors:


  1. The relative youth of these donors. The younger the donor, the lower the retention.
  2. The fact that the method you brought them on board with (direct contact with a person) is very different from your method of cultivating them (either mail or email).

But there’s a way to improve the face-to-face retention problem, and you can read about it at Queer Ideas, How to reduce face to face attrition by half. In short:

Donors are given materials that don’t just talk about what the charity has done, but focuses on the work that the donor will be helping make happen. Through regular updates, the donor gets to see a project unfold, often from different points of view — a beneficiary, a project worker or even another supporter.

In testing, this cut donor attrition in half. It even lowered attrition among those who didn’t sign up for the information.

This is good news, though not very surprising.

You see, donors want to know that their giving matters. They want connection. Give them those things, and you’ll keep them longer. Even donors who are predisposed to be less engaged and less loyal.

The trick — and it works every time — tell donors their giving makes a difference. Do it frequently, vividly, and creatively. Don’t brag about how efficient and cool you are; show them how cool they are.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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