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Know The Numbers – Then Act Accordingly For Donor Retention

One of the most important measures of a healthy non-profit organization is their rate of donor retention.

In other words, do you have an avid audience who is eating up every word and deed you’re doing, and then passing it on? Does this translate into donors giving again?

The numbers don’t lie. From the Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report, (great infographic, btw), the percentage of donors being retained year over next is below 50%. While this may be an alarming statistic for a national average, this doesn’t need  to be your story.

Start to track your own donor retention rates. On your organization dashboard, make note of how many donors you have each month, which are repeat donors and which are new. If you track this and look at these numbers every single month, at your board meetings for instance, you can begin to understand if you are improving or if you could use some help.

Drilling down even further, first time donors have a 23% retention rate, nationally. That equates to 3 out of 4 first-time donors that never donate to your organization again. Yikes!

Luckily, there are some simple things we can easily do to remedy this.

First, be sure to connect to your first-time givers. Read my blog post on “The Wow Factor In Fundraising” to learn some simple ways to make your donors feel appreciated.

Second, know from whence they came. If your first-time donors gave as the result of an event they attended, an auction they contributed to, a memorial gift in honor of a loved one, etc., make sure your organization makes that connection, honors them for it, ,and relates in some way back to why they gave.

Yes, this may take some extra work.

Each new donor needs to be considered uniquely and individually and then followed up with accordingly.

We all know, it’s easier to retain a donor than to gain a brand new one. So putting in the extra work now is totally worth it.

In fact, the rate of repeat donor retention is now at 60%. This is where the rubber meets the road. Your repeat donors have made a personal and emotional connection to your mission. This has begun a relationship of win/win for your donors and your programs. Keep the conversation going with this group – they are gold!

Your monthly donors are worth the time it takes to capture them. Can I hear an amen?!

Statistics show that 90% of monthly donors stay put. You have to be ready for them though. Get your technology set so that you can take automated, repeat gifts. And, make sure that even though they are giving automatically, they are still receiving personalized communications from you. Double check that they receive their year-end acknowledgement letter and thank you cards, along with phone calls, throughout the year.

As you can tell, every donor is unique. Every donor category requires a little different approach in the way we communicate to them. And, that’s the fun part of fundraising.


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