The market/sector has been ‘flooded’ with people talking about donor retention for many years now.
Many of them make money selling software and services that supposedly help fundraisers improve their donor retention. Yet after all their talk, the statistics say that donor retention just keeps going down. The number of donors giving to charity keeps declining while total charitable dollars keep increasing. In other words, there’s been a narrowing of the funnel. And, I believe this trend will only continue.
Perhaps their software and consulting recommendations aren’t working? Perhaps the tide is too strong?
Maybe. But I believe there’s more to it than that.
I think your focus needs to NOT ONLY be on donor retention (although that’s not a bad thing to work on). I think your focus should be on donor qualification and donor prioritization. Here’s why:
Of course, my products qualify and prioritize donors for outreach and communications. So I guess I’m biased. But remember, I changed my successful marketing company to help this sector because I’m a pissed off donor, not because I found a market in which I could make money. Heck! If I wanted to make a lot of money I could have done that a lot faster and with less aggravation by staying OUT of this sector.
Bottom line: All the talk about donor retention drives me a little crazy sometimes. It’s not really good for the sector to keep telling the staff to go into a fist-fight while at the same time they have both hands tied behind their backs (since they can’t really afford to do donor retention tactics the right way). Focus on qualification and prioritization first. Then work your ass off to retain those hi-value donors with meaningful, personalized, relevant engagements. Give them the experiences they deserve and let your competition spend time and money on the rest with weak, watered-down, one-size-fits-all donor retention approaches.
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