How (and why) to fix low donor retention

It seems everyone is worried about donor retention.

And they should be, because it’s a hot mess nearly everywhere. As the Bloomerang Blog notes, New Study Shows Donor Retention Rates Are In Decline.

Referring to their 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Donor Retention Supplement, Bloomerang notes:

… both new donor and repeat donor retention declined again as it has nearly every single year since these findings were released for the first time in 2008.

The cost of that drop in retention is incalculably huge.

The solution? There are many, but one that Boomerang points out is this: Get a second gift from your now donor. When that happens …

It is nearly a TRIPLING of the donor retention rate once a donor gives for the second time!

That’s right: if a donor gives a second time, they are about three times as likely to stay with you.

Here are some things you can do to encourage that critical second gift:

  • Acknowledge the first gift promptly.
  • Be specific and relevant in that acknowledgement.
  • Report back (soon!) on the impact of the first gift.
  • Ask again soon.
  • Ask often.

Getting second gifts from your new donors will completely change a poor donor retention rate!


Comments

6 responses to “How (and why) to fix low donor retention”

  1. This is a great reminder of how important donor retention really is! Good timing too, it coincides with an article I just published called “Beyond the Basics with Donor Retention”!

  2. This is a great reminder of how important donor retention really is! Good timing too, it coincides with an article I just published called “Beyond the Basics with Donor Retention”!

  3. Zach and Jeff, I agree with you both regarding the importance of donor retention. I also agree that improving donor retention stats is relatively simple. Furthermore, I believe most nonprofit professionals know both of those things. This begs the question: Why aren’t fundraising professionals actually doing what needs to be done?
    Folks know the stats have been falling. They know there are plenty of great resources to stop the slide and retain more donors. But, they’re simply not doing what it takes. Here’s a link to my post searching for the answer:
    “What are the Obstacles to Improving Donor Retention Rates”
    https://michaelrosensays.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/what-are-the-obstacles-to-improving-donor-retention-rates/
    Until the nonprofit sector addresses the issue of inertia, nothing will change. NOTHING.

  4. Zach and Jeff, I agree with you both regarding the importance of donor retention. I also agree that improving donor retention stats is relatively simple. Furthermore, I believe most nonprofit professionals know both of those things. This begs the question: Why aren’t fundraising professionals actually doing what needs to be done?
    Folks know the stats have been falling. They know there are plenty of great resources to stop the slide and retain more donors. But, they’re simply not doing what it takes. Here’s a link to my post searching for the answer:
    “What are the Obstacles to Improving Donor Retention Rates”
    https://michaelrosensays.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/what-are-the-obstacles-to-improving-donor-retention-rates/
    Until the nonprofit sector addresses the issue of inertia, nothing will change. NOTHING.

  5. What people continue to miss is retention is barely effected by doing other stuff, never has. That is why all the advice over the past decade has failed to have any real impact. In fact what is missing is what every expert has missed since 2004.

  6. What people continue to miss is retention is barely effected by doing other stuff, never has. That is why all the advice over the past decade has failed to have any real impact. In fact what is missing is what every expert has missed since 2004.

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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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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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