Tag Archives: retention

How to calculate donor retention

Recently I stumbled across this great how-to from the DonorPath blog that discusses practical ways to pay attention to your donor data.  In addition, it highlights a formula for calculating retention.  If you’re not already keeping up with this measurement, put this on your to-do list.

 

 

In my office we look at retention over time (1 to 5 years) by cohort groups.  If you have a novel way of evaluating retention that you’d like to share, let me know!

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Finding out why

Sometimes when I read articles about fundraising practices, the stories hit close to home.  Like this one over at 101Fundraising. Essentially, the article laments that our CRM systems do a great job of itemizing transactions, but a really poor job of revealing WHY things happen.  Like, for instance, why donors lapse.  Could be a variety of reasons outside of our control.  But what if there were a few things we could control that would actually promote donor retention (if only we knew about them)?

 

Here’s what I mean by that.

 

Remember about a month ago when I mentioned how my alumni organization had called and asked me to give?  I was happy to do so.  A month later, my happiness has begun to fade.  During our original phone chat, Hilary asked me if I wanted to receive any university decals for my car.  I told her I didn’t want them to send me anything.

 

So a couple of weeks ago I receive this big package with a wooden plaque and an envelope full of car stickers.

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Right.  That was me thinking:  what am I supposed to do with this stuff?  Didn’t they listen to me when I said I didn’t want to receive anything?  Doesn’t their CRM system know what to do with that information?  Apparently not.  And that’s exactly the point Charlie Hulme is trying to make in his article.

 

Do our donors experience any Debbie Downer moments?  Truth is, we don’t know.  We only notice after they lapse, but we never know why.  We just continue to spend money sending them mail with a speck of hope they’ll miraculously start giving again.

 

If you have any insight you’d like to share, let me know!

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A heart-felt thank you message

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my alumni organization called and I finally made a gift.  Finally.  After they asked.  Then the next day I got an email thanking me for the gift.  I didn’t even open it until I started writing this blog post.  It was a pretty standardized message.  That’s all I was really expecting.  Until now.

Today I read this article by Ann Green who is compelling us to add just an ounce of creativity and heart into our standardized thank you messages.  And seriously, why not?  How could that possibly hurt anything?

 

Clue:  it can’t hurt.  So include an engaging video, photo montage and links to stories or news items that will create a better experience.

 

I was in a meeting with a brilliant colleague the other day who reminded me that stewarding our donors’ gifts is just one part of the multi-faceted donor relations experience.  Our challenge is to relate to them and make them feel awesome about their involvement with our missions.

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Urban legend

I’ve worked with a few charismatic people that have solid reputations in nonprofit fundraising.  Since I am a relative newcomer to the industry (just 12 years of nonprofit experience), as compared with some of my colleagues, I believed what I heard as fact.  Several years ago I heard the term donor fatigue.  It was new to me, but I quickly understood the concept.  For a while.  And then I looked more closely.  This is an example of what I saw.

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That’s a count of (our) major gift donor households for fiscal year 2014 that fall into one of 3 categories:  first time donors at the major gift level, first time major gift donors who have donated previously at a lower level, and repeat major gift donors.  Guess what the red color represents?

Correct!  82% of our major gift donor households in 2014 supported us previously at a major gift level.  It is because they are committed to the cause and choose to direct their philanthropic support toward our mission.

 

I suspect the same is true with your major gift donor population.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check for yourself.  Then re-run the counts every year.  Your committed donors are seeking a way to make a difference and that is why they give to you.  Don’t stop asking them to support a mission that they clearly love.  Don’t believe the urban legend of donor fatigue.

 

Recently I’ve read some great articles on the topic.  Here’s one by Simone Joyaux.  Here’s one by Maeve Strathy.  In addition, I learned that the consulting group Kimbia is presently conducting a brief survey on opinions pertaining to donor fatigue.  If you’d like to participate, click here.

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Going from satisfactory to excellent with thank you letters

Inspired consultant and blogger Penelope Burk has been surveying donors and paying attention to what they say about how the nonprofits to whom they give recognize their donations.  Here’s her list of 20 elements that contribute to an excellent thank you letter.

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Of course, images go a long way toward helping our donors see exactly who and what their dollars are supporting.  Ball Statue University holds campus-wide thank you events to involve students, faculty and donors and shares those images through their social media channels.

Thanks Ball State alumni and friends!

To access Penelope Burk’s blog, click on the list above.

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Great ideas to boost giving

From our friends at Ruffalo Cody, 5 clever ideas to implement over the next few months that could be especially useful for annual giving solicitation, renewal and stewardship strategies.  Here’s a quick synopsis —

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As a best practices reminder, Ruffalo Cody suggests that when implementing a new practice, make sure to capture baseline constituent list for each communication, to be able to measure specific results.

Click on any of the suggestions above to read the full article.

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5 Fundraising metrics you should be using

Originally published on our old blog (RIP :)), this was one of our reader favorites, so we thought we’d bring the content over to this blog.

Five fundraising metrics recommended by Sidekick Solutions

 

  • Average gift size and number of gifts
  • Donor retention
  • Giving by activity and return per activity
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per dollar raised.

Click on the image above to open the original article that explains each of the metrics in more depth.

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