Recently I explored the essential books on donor retention from four of the most revered experts in the nonprofit world. The fourth of those was “Retention Fundraising: The New Art and Science of Keeping Your Donors for Life” by Roger Craver.
I’d like to highlight a key chapter of his book. Hopefully, this will more than entice everyone to read the entire book, which can be found here on Roger’s new website. The site also highlights numerous other essential resources for anyone in fundraising interested in improving their donor retention rates.
The 7 Key Drivers of Donor Commitment
The above title is the actual chapter heading. In this chapter, Roger Craver shares the result of a Donor Voice survey of more than 250 nonprofits. Their most loyal donors were asked to rank, by order of importance, 32 drivers of donor commitment. Here were the top seven:
- Donor perceives your organization to be effective in trying to achieve its mission.
- Donor knows what to expect from your organization with each interaction.
- Donor receives timely a thank you.
- Donor receives opportunities to make his or her views known.
- Donor is given the feeling that he or she is part of an important cause.
- Donor feels his or her involvement is appreciated.
- Donor receives information showing who is being helped.
I urge everyone reading this post to either write down or type out the seven drivers on your own. This enables your mind to focus on each one. It also allows your thoughts to crystallize on how your organization is doing in delivering each of the seven. I truly believe driving commitment is the secret sauce of improving retention!
Communications Fuels All 7 Drivers
Did you notice that some aspect of communication is fueling each of the seven drivers? The content and timing of your organization’s communication efforts drives the feelings and perceptions of every donor!
Every executive and board member should be not only a donor, but should also be on the receiving end of nearly every communication stream the organization provides. Each of the above individuals should also receiving at least 3-5 donor communication streams from other nonprofits, in order to compare it to their own efforts.
Small, But Consistent Efforts Are Critical
Did you notice as you read the seven drivers of donor commitment how much little details matter? Overall, the donor wants to feel that they are appreciated and that they are important to your mission being achieved.
This is especially important for first-time donors. Please keep in mind that if a donor makes a second gift their retention rate nearly triples!
Making donors feel truly appreciated is what can separate you from the average nonprofit. All it takes are small changes in your donor communications efforts. Here are my favorites:
- A telephone call (to new donors)
- Personalizing the thank you
- A handwritten note (from the ED)
- Stating exactly how the donation will be used
- Having a recipient of your mission personally share their story
- Sending a short survey
- Inviting the donor out to coffee to hear what they expect from the org
None of these are particularly difficult to make happen, but few organizations go the extra mile.
Please pick up a copy of “Retention Fundraising.” If you are excited as me about the impact it will have on funding your mission, you will devour it in a single marvelous session of donor retention insights!