It is May in Indianapolis, which means much attention will turn to the biggest single-day sporting event in the world: the Indianapolis 500!

Throughout the city, the entire month is chock-full of activities and events leading up to race day. There is nothing like the pageantry and tradition of Memorial Day weekend at the track.

This year marks the 100th running of the iconic race, so there is naturally an increased interest in the race, as well as high demand for tickets, sponsorships, and hospitality suites.

One could assume that, because of the Indy 500’s name recognition and status, the Speedway’s leadership would not have to worry about “retention” – that ticket buyers and corporate hospitality deals would naturally renew year after year.

But according to a recent article from the Indiana Business Journal, Speedway officials are making sure that this year’s “hyped up demand isn’t a one-and-done” experience for race-goers. There is a recognition that “the sales process for next May starts during this May.”

For instance, Doug Boles, the President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is busy calling 10 ticket buyers every day. Why would he do that? His list of things to do leading up to the race is probably staggeringly long. For an event that has over 250,000 attendees, this effort hardly seems worth it.

But Boles, as well as many other business leaders, seem to understand much better than most nonprofits the importance of retaining existing customers and working as hard as possible to show appreciation to existing customers that goes beyond what is expected.

According to the article, the standard for season-ticket renewals for most sports leagues is about 90 percent.

90 percent!

Can you imagine the impact nonprofits could have if annual donor retention was anywhere close to that rate? According to the recent FEP data, the median donor retention rate for nonprofit organizations pales in comparison at 43%.

So always keep an eye on retention, even if you think your mission or event is already well-known or “self-sustaining.” You are never too busy to make personal connections with your donors and volunteers. Go above and beyond when thanking your donors. Do something that would surprise them and really make them feel appreciated!

Happy fundraising, and see you at the track!


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Mitch Peterson

Mitch Peterson

Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang
Mitch Peterson is a Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang. He was previously Director of Marketing at Sports World Ministries, Inc.