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Reflections on the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Luncheon


I recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon here in Indianapolis sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The AFP holds monthly luncheons for its members on a number of topics of interest to fundraisers. Over 100 members attended this particular luncheon which I am told is about a 45% increase over average attendance. This got me wondering what was so special about this particular luncheon that yielded such a draw. They did serve really great pie, but I suspect the real reason for the stellar attendance was the topic of the day: donor retention.

The AFP and The Urban Institute recently conducted a fundraising effectiveness survey called the Fundraising Effectiveness Project where they looked at actual data from over 3000 nonprofit organization in the United States. What they found is that the average donor retention rate nationwide is only 41%! This means the donor attrition rate is 59%!  So, if you start with 1,000 donors in your database, after 5 years, only 10 will still be giving to your organization.

With such staggering attrition statistics, it is no wonder that so many fundraising professionals flocked to a luncheon where they could learn about and discuss retention strategies with peers. As our Chief Scientist, Dr. Adrian Sargeant, likes to say: “A mere 10% increase in retention can increase the lifetime value of the fundraising database by 200%”. It was great to be in a room with so many fundraisers who realize that retention is a big problem and are taking action to do something about it!

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