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4 Donor Retention Experts You Need To Know

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Before embarking on the journey of helping donor retention best practices come to life in Bloomerang, I personally embarked upon a personal journey with the highest Zen Master of Donor Retention: Dr. Adrian Sargeant.

This led me to meet three more experts, who would forever change my view of and work within the nonprofit sector. You should know all four of them if you care at all about donor retention.

adrian-bookExpert #1 – Dr. Adrian Sargeant

This journey began in Orlando Florida, of all places, at the inaugural and only AFP Tech Conference. I had known Adrian through my involvement with the board at the IU Lilly School of Philanthropy where he served as the very first Endowed Chair. In fact, I had already read a couple of his remarkable math involved with the lifetime value of multi-year donors, it also pointed out the disastrous decline of donor retention over the last several years!

I waited patiently for the multitude in front of me to ask their questions so I could ask the most important question to Adrian: “would you join me for lunch?”

During lunch we discussed his research regarding donor retention and his passion for helping nonprofits improve this key metric. It was during this lunch that a large basis of the idea for Bloomerang came to life!

Our team devoured two of Adrian’s best books on this very subject: Building Donor Loyalty and Tiny Essentials of Donor Loyalty. They should be required reading for every nonprofit fundraiser and executive. They reveal game changing practices!

keep-your-donorsExperts #2 and #3 – Tom Ahern and Simone Joyaux

Journey two began in Australia of all places; Brisbane to be exact. There I met and became friends with one of the premier consultants to the nonprofit world, while we were both speaking at the Fundraising Institute Australia.

It was Simone Joyaux. Her passion for helping nonprofits is second to none. This was obvious from day one!

We stayed in touch through the years. It was both Simone and Adrian who then led me to the Guru of Donor Communications, Mr. Tom Ahern.

My first daylong meeting with Tom was absolutely magical.

We explored the cause and effect relationship of donor retention and donor communications. (They go together better than peanut butter and jelly!)

Both Simone and Tom each have several outstanding books they have written individually. However, the one I read first and is also a must read for any nonprofit executive or fundraiser is Keep Your Donors.

Roger-bookExpert #4 – Roger Craver

This final journey is not for the meek of heart. Meeting and discussing donor retention strategy with Roger is both exhilarating and exhausting! In fact, I have racked my brain for some sort of metaphor to describe Roger. Nothing I came up with does justice to a live chat with Roger…

We had known of each other for decades before I sat down with him for a long and wonderful breakfast in Washington D.C. a few years back.

He was literally as excited as me when I described a new database product focused on donor retention based upon the best practices of leaders in the field like Adrian, Tom, and now, Kivi Leroux Miller.

Little did I know at the time that his passion and knowledge would lead to the creation of the latest book of donor retention: Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life.

It is literally the most up to date guide to keeping your donors for life!

If a profession such as professional fundraising can have a metric that rises above all others in leading to fundraising success in donor retention. Then perhaps it is important enough to have more than one publication worthy of being labeled “Bible-like.”

Lucky for you, you don’t have to travel the world to connect with these four individuals:

I hope everyone reading this post has the opportunity to devour each and every one of them!

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  • Susan Axelrod

    I love this blog post bc it highlights the best-kept secret in fundraising. I call it a secret bc it seems so elusive to so many organizations that are limping and languishing [I feel like I should copyright this phrase I use it so much in discussing the state of nonprofits in the country today]. I know of all of these luminaries, but do not have their books on my shelf-I'm going to rectify that. I have started a new business to focus on one single factor that I believe will lead to improved donor retention and more money raised. The single focus is to teach nonprofit CEOs and EDs top-of-pyramid individual solicitation strategies based in purposeful, long-term relationships. To help strengthen the nonprofit sector-I'm starting the first-ever Fundraising Mastermind Group for Nonprofit Leaders in January 2015. I will scan the books in this post and use them as vital resources in my work with nonprofit leaders. Jay--you rock!! Looking forward to my Bloomerang webinar next week!
  • Simone Joyaux

    Thank you, Jay. For blogging about DONOR RETENTION … Loyalty, the Holy Grail of fundraising…so say The Agitators, Craver and Belford. And I always add, loyalty is the Holy Grail of any business. And thank you for including me with such luminaries as Adrian, Tom, and Roger. Thank you! We all have to fight for loyalty / retention. We have to fight for better fundraising to produce more philanthropy to make community change.
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