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Stop Treating Your Database of Non-Donors Like a Security Blanket

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Sensing the need for a focus on donor retention principles and in-depth training, Jay Goulart and David Lawson created the Donor Retention Boot Camp: two solid days worth of training, case studies and real-world role-plays that wrapped up earlier this week. Most of the content was based upon their real world experiences, extensive research and past teachings. Myself and a few other experienced practitioners of the art of donor retention were invited down to the event in order to add relevant sessions throughout the action-packed two days.

Proper Focus

Jay Goulart kicked off the boot camp by illustrating results from his past experience as a professional fundraiser in the education vertical. He and his team used intense focus on one of three sections of their donor database to achieve outstanding results in the very first year. The three sections are contained in every single donor database in the nonprofit world and can be found with basic reporting. They are:

  1. Accounts who provide 0% of the funding
  2. Accounts who provide 10% of the funding
  3. Accounts who provide 90% of the funding

You would think that every fundraiser would apply the most attention to the third group, especially since in nearly every single case it is the smallest of the three groups! However, traditions die hard in the fundraising sector and fundraisers in general are eternal optimists.

We See This Play Out Daily

We at Bloomerang see this played out nearly every day. We ask nonprofit decision makers a few key questions during our in-depth analysis of their needs. The key questions illustrating this point are:

  1. What is the number of accounts in your database?
  2. How many of them have been donors in the last 3 years?
  3. How many of the non-donors were added in the last year?
  4. Why keep the large number of non-donors added more than 12 months ago?

LinusWe hear all sorts of strange answers to the last question. It’s as if the vast majority of fundraisers consider a large database of non-donors some sort of security blanket.

Here are a few of the reasons we hear:

  1. They might become donors if we keep contacting them
  2. We worked hard to obtain those extra names
  3. They attended an event sometime in the past

Each of the above reasons keeps them from focusing on the group that is so vital to them: the accounts who provide 90% of the funding! In addition, they spend valuable budget dollars and untold effort trying to continually contact the accounts who have proven multiple times they are not interested!

We offer time and time again to help them clean up and properly remove those thousands of extra accounts. We are hoping training sessions such as The Donor Retention Boot Camp will make our task easier in the future.

Five Takeaways

There were so many during the two day training that it’s hard to single out a few. Here are my personal top five:

  1. Donor Retention is a MINDSET/CULTURE
  2. Focus on the Donors who provide 90% of your funding
  3. Find the Best Method of Donor Acquisition and Stick With It
  4. Retention is All About Relationships
  5. Track Key Metrics and Your Results

Jay and David both summarized the above throughout their presentations and used so many real world experiences to make these points hit home. As if I was not already a believer in donor retention best practices, this boot camp crystallized the critical concepts and made me even more of a zealot in to the amazing results such practices can lead to. Congrats to Jay, David and to the inaugural Donor Retention Boot Camp graduates!


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