We concluded my last post focusing in on the ever increasing huge dilemma facing nonprofits of donor retention levels dropping and the complexity of the databases built to aid in the fundraising process becoming more and more complex. For the average size NPO or smaller, this widening chasm could literally impact mission delivery going forward. This chasm becoming more and more evident signaled OPPORTUNITY in a huge manner to me!
The first of the last two mystery additions to the cast of this story will be known by anyone familiar with the company I co-founded back in 1999, eTapestry. This person, like so many of the wonderful employees I had the joy of working shoulder to shoulder with, stayed in touch often. How can you not, with social media and email these days, although my favorites are still the “catch up” breakfast or lunch face to face meetings.
I knew this person could address the complexity of fundraising databases in short order. He is one of the most amazing technical talents I have ever been associated with during my nearly 40 year business career. He was responsible for addressing many of the thorniest and most complex issues our previous cloud based fundraising application had. I could literally fill up the rest of this blog post stating his achievements and breakthroughs in ease of use. However, the two most important factors to me were our mutual trust for and of each other and our common goal to help the small and medium size non-profit be more successful!
Many of you know I am referring to the Bloomerang CTO Rob Signorelli.
We have been helping those NPO’s for over 10 years together. During one of our “catch up” lunches I asked if he could truly come up with a major breakthrough in Fundraising Software simplicity and ease of use. He smiled with that confident grin I have grown to love and respect and said “there is no doubt in my mind I can!”
First piece of the puzzle was solved. I then set out on a personal mission to find the answer to falling donor retention. Since recurring donors are the lifeblood of any NPO, my instinct was yelling at me to find the world wide expert on this subject. Heck, I have been part of this sector for 30 years and my rolodex had swelled to more than 5,000 friends and fundraising practitioners, if not experts in this field. Surely there could be a clue or direct link to a possible answer within that esteemed group…
Sometimes in life you must go beyond Google to find the answer. (Although in this case, both Google and experts both lead me to the same exact individual!) Yes, I started researching and asking “who is the most renowned expert in donor retention and donor loyalty?”
I wanted to find the person who had conducted the largest amount and most current research on this critical subject. I knew the sector needed to put such research to work in day to day activities or this downward trend would continue. Fortunately, for everyone reading this post that person does in fact exist, and much more importantly, was also concerned about creating the solution! The last mystery character in my story is Adrian Sargeant.
Go ahead and search Google yourself for two reasons. The first one is to verify my conclusion above. Secondly, your search will enable you to find out Adrian’s numerous other outstanding credentials. The link above does not do justice to his achievements in my opinion.
When I approached Adrian, it was fortunate that our paths in this sector were quite intertwined due to our mutual long association with AFP, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and other sector related organizations. These crossovers lead to a great deal of mutual respect.
During our first meeting, I asked Adrian this question: “After your many years of intense research on donor retention and loyalty, which has resulted in a large number of books and papers on the subject, do you feel like it is making a difference in results?” What came next was a very long pause. I knew better than to say anything, so I waited. Eventually Adrian responded with “I am not sure.”
Sensing a real opportunity might be upon both of us; I then asked “Would you like to make your principles of donor retention success the underpinnings of a new fundraising software database that would literally spell out best practices to be followed on a daily basis?” This time there was no pause at all. Adrian quickly replied “I’m in!”
We immediately started discussing how we could make his concepts literally come to life. In fact, during every meeting since our initial discussion, the excitement has grown. It has grown as much as our ideas to implement Adrian’s research have within Bloomerang.
Part of me sincerely believes it was much more than fate, which brought the three mystery characters and me together to create the key concepts behind Bloomerang. I hope the future success of our clients will prove that guiding and reminding fundraisers of best donor retention practices is both rewarding and fun. If it is half as much fun as we have had in bringing this bold new product to market, then the rest of this story will be a “Best Seller”!