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Phone (410) 842-1170
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Donor Recognition; The Real Key to Retention
Nothing keeps donors engaged like timely, personal acknowledgments.
November 2013 By Joe Boland
Ever since the economy began to bottom out five years ago, the focus
of the nonprofit fundraising world has been on donor retention. That’s not
to say retention was on the back burner in years and decades prior. It’s
always been integral to fundraising success. But with acquisition budgets
getting routinely slashed and competition for donors’ attention reaching
all-time highs, retention seems to be the biggest focal point for
fundraisers from organizations of all missions and sizes.
Yet, fundraisers continue to struggle with donor retention. In fact,
one reference point that Bill Sayre, president of full-service
direct-response marketing company Merkle Response Management Group, likes to point out is
“according to Chuck Longfield, senior vice president and
chief scientist at [nonprofit technology provider] Blackbaud, three out of every four
donors stop donating at the end of their first year.”
So what’s a fundraising department to do? How can you reverse this
trend and retain more donors to fill your housefile
with loyal supporters?
“The simple truth is that donor acknowledgment and donor recognition
is the key to retention,” Sayre says. “There have been a number of
studies done and statistics on if you properly recognize/thank donors,
your ability to retain them is greatly improved.”
If donor acknowledgment is the key to retention, what are the keys to
donor acknowledgment and recognition?
Respect thy donor
The most important thing fundraisers can do to retain donors and
acknowledge them appropriately is to respect them and their wishes. If
you can’t do something as simple as communicate with them in the channels
they prefer, how can you expect them to remain loyal donors —
particularly when it’s so easy in this day and age to find another
organization and cause to support?
5 Steps to the Second Gift
Welcoming new donors and keeping them active is an exercise in tone
August 2013 By Bryan Terpstra
new donors is more expensive and more difficult than ever. Ten years ago,
average new-donor retention rates were 30 percent. Now the average is down
to 20 percent to 25 percent. That means 75 percent to 80 percent of your
new donors may abandon you after the first gift. Ouch.
first critical task: Motivate your new donors to give you second gifts as
soon as possible after the first gifts. It’s been proven that if a new
donor gives again within three months, long-term donor loyalty can
that second gift can be elusive, clearly. But it’s worth the pursuit.
Even a slight improvement in retention can have extremely positive
effects on your program and net income.
need to take five carefully timed steps to get more new donors to
continue their support. But before you get started, get into the
New-Donor Zone. Step away from the tactical aspects of your fundraising
program for a moment, and put yourself in the shoes of your new donor.
She is excited about her recent gift to your organization. She has a
strong emotional connection to your cause. And something magical happened
when she made her gift to you. She hopes she is making an impact. She is
giving through your organization to realize her own aspirations. Your job
is to keep these feelings burning strong. Tap in to this new-donor
mind-set as you follow these steps:
Step 1: Within 48 hours
Thank your donors promptly and sincerely. Strengthen your new
relationships while their gifts and the warm feelings associated with
them are still fresh in their minds.
New Fundraising Accountability Code Proffered
Finally, another voice stepping up to the plate regarding regaining
some public trust in fundraising.
July 2013 By Tom Belford
The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation (DMANF) has
just issued its new Principles
and Best Practices for Accountability in Fundraising.
Hats off to DMANF.
In the media
release, DMANF General Counsel Senny
Boone comments: “Donors expect nonprofits to be accountable and
transparent. The new principles serve as key reminders to organizations
that they hold a public trust.”
The guidelines offer a defense of fundraising as a necessary
investment in any nonprofit’s mission, but with this bottom line:
“Taken in total, in accordance with generally accepted standards, a
nonprofit should spend a majority of its annual revenue on program.”
If I have any quibble with these guidelines, it would be that they
are directed almost exclusively at nonprofits, the client side — lots of
Do’s and Don’ts for nonprofits, but almost none, other than by
implication, for the agencies and consultants who serve nonprofits (and
in the worst cases, effectively own them).
In theory, yes, the ‘customer’ should be calling the shots and
bearing much of the burden for ensuring its practices are ethical. But
that’s a bit like writing hunting rules for the game warden but not
Here are the only two provisions directly addressing agencies: