On the issue of pumping more revenue out of your current donor base, I learned from Uncle Roger and Uncle Tom at The Agitator: “On average, we have found that if you have 5,000 donors, a 10 point increase in retention could mean $175,000 in additional net income … 10,000 donors and you put an additional $350,000 to your bottom line … 20,000 donors, $700,000 … and so forth.”
Better retention? It could be for fundraising what fracking was for US oil industry, releasing entirely new reserves.
On the question of just how you do retain more donors, I learned (again from The Agitator): “A three-minute thank you call will boost 1st year retention by 30%.”
Which reminded me of something I’d learned in 2012 from The Agitator as well: how Uncle Angel Aloma, the ED at Food for the Poor and a brilliant donor communicator, raked in an extra $450,000 in generosity from 25,000 select donors. His secret? He was extra grateful. At the beginning of the year, he sent an extra thank you note to these donors, without any ask.
When I, the donor (a.k.a., the customer), “buy” you (my charming new charity), I’m in an emotional state: a state of enjoyment.
I like helping. I enjoy doing good. Being generous. Truly. Physically. When I act that way, my brain feeds me dopamine rewards. That particular stimulus/response is built into human wiring. If I could afford to write checks to charity all day, I’d stay high as a kite.
But there is also a phenomenon let’s call “donor’s remorse.”
It’s just like buyer’s remorse: an oppressive feeling of disappointment and doubt that you’ve made a bad purchase decision. It’s a feeling of potential loss that happens immediately and automatically as soon as the first gift is completed.
I’m feeling it right now. I just gave $500 of my hard-earned income to a political candidate whom I trust and admire. And yet I wonder….
Donor’s remorse is immediate because, as Uncle Alan Clayton loudly and often points out, all emotions are instantaneous.
Should we despair? No: fundraisers can to a large degree control donor’s remorse.
They can, for instance, reverse it, through effective “new donor communications” (think “welcome kit”). You can quickly convert donor’s remorse into a strong platform for long association and cultivation, by substituting a positive emotion for a negative … but DO put the emphasis on the quickly.
Angel Aloma’s secret to success was brilliantly obvious: Deliver more gratitude than expected.
You know, it’s amazing how many charities do gratitude badly.
Step #1 in any recovery is simple: “Admit the problem.” (Angel Aloma did. In 2005 he realized that Food for the Poor was doing low-yield “corporate” rather than high-yield “donor-centered” communications … and the rest is Christ-centered, feeding-the-desperately-
Are the right people on the bus, Uncle Jim Collins might ask?
You have charity staff themselves vandalizing successful fundraising, calling it “poverty porn,” which