The very sad story of the abysmal retention rates in so many unfortunate nonprofit organizations is old news. Bad news. Yet, we don’t fix it. Why? Why don’t nonprofits fix it?
Sure, I know. Your boss won’t listen to your expertise as you strive to follow the body of knowledge and research. Your board chair – that really powerful guy – thinks he knows best.
Ironic, isn’t it? The for-profit sector figured out loyalty decades ago. Just ask any businessperson. She’ll tell you that her job is on the line if customers don’t stick around.
But not in the nonprofit sector. Fundraisers keep their jobs despite lousy retention rates. Great fundraisers finally leave after fighting the asinine bosses and board members.
Also, there’s this little (or big) edge of entitlement that too often cuts through nonprofits. “We do such important work, we deserve money. We must focus on our good work, so you all out there should just give us money.”
And still, retention rates decrease. The battle cry for loyalty seems strong … and then fades in the timid offices of the organization.
By the way, your donors may be leaving you – but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped supporting good causes – even the cause you espouse. Always remember, donors give through your organization to fulfill their own aspirations, live out their own interests and values. Donors stop giving through you because of reasons you can – in all likelihood – control. Donors leave you and give through another organization.
So what are you doing about this situation?
I hope you’re fighting your boss and board. And if you can’t bring them along, then find another job. You deserve a job where you are respected, listened to, and allowed to perform well.
If you’re smart, you’re reading all the research. You’re following The Agitator and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and Adrian Sargeant and Bloomerang and Tom Ahern and all the people pleading, ranting, and exhorting a focus on donor loyalty and lifetime value.
And there’s just as much pleading, ranting, and exhorting going on about how to build loyalty. For example, I recite – over and over and over: Build loyalty by nurturing relationships. Nurture relationships by operating as a donor-centered organization – and – launching a comprehensive relationship-building program. And that relationship-building program includes donor-centered communications and extraordinary experiences.
So let’s focus on that donor-centered part. What does it mean? How can your organization evaluate its Donor Centric Quotient?
Check out the Donor Centric Pledge (affectionately known as the DCP) and test your Donor Centric Quotient (known as the DCQ). Strong performance of the DCP increases your DCQ – which, in turn, increases your donor retention rates (shall we call those the DRR?)
Here’s what readers of my web column at the Nonprofit Quarterly said about the DCP:
- “These are all good for convo