Do you know what your donor retention percentage is? A somewhat simple question, but many just don’t know or can’t easily find with the complicated database solution they are using. But, the answer is so very important! Adrian Sargent says a simple 10% increase in your donor retention can DOUBLE the lifetime value of your donor database!

Donor Retention DashboardWith a ‘donor retention focus’ in mind, I wanted to see how an organization goes about starting and building a relationship. As I have mentioned on my blog a few times, my son is a sophomore at Purdue University and a member of a fraternity there. I received a very well crated appeal in the mail about making a gift to the ‘parent’s fund’ for the fraternity on behalf of my son. Of course, I wanted to give!  And, I did give. I changed things up however and went to the website to review the organization and then made my gift via the online giving page. I wanted to also see how this organization went about building a relationship with me.

My experience has been mixed so far. I received a wonderful email thank you and a few days later a well-crafted paper thank you from the director of the organization. I was inspired by the words and felt my gift will make a difference. Then, nothing. It has been a few months and it seems the relationship building process is on hold. I do have high hopes that the cultivation will continue because I am learning to believe in the mission of the organization.

So, what is my point? How about you run a donor retention experiment for your organization? Find someone connected with you but not connected to your organization to make a gift (you can even give the money to your friend to make the gift if you likeJ) to your nonprofit. Then, sit back and see what happens.

How does your organization go about thanking this new donor?  What type of process is started to build a relationship? Are you effective in getting a second gift? And of course, 12 months from now, will your organization RETAIN this new donor?  Of course, you having a long sit down with this person can provide valuable feedback, both positive and negative. Your experiment would allow your organization to truly evaluate what you might need to do better in order to get that 10% increase in donor retention.

Don’t forget, good tools are needed for such an experiment! A retention-focused donor database, good website that is interactive for your donor, the ability to connect with the new donor through multiple channels, and being able to see how the relationship develops over time with a good CRM are all vital!

As my donor retention experiment plays out, I urge you to start one of your own! It could DOUBLE your success if you aren’t careful!

Wayne Robbins

Wayne Robbins

Wayne Robbins was VP of Sales at Bloomerang. A graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, Wayne has over 15 years experience in nonprofit and faith-based development and fundraising in addition to his 10 years of experience in sales.