The Mikuska Group  

It pays to keep your donors

We hear all the time from organizations about getting new donors. Yes, it’s important to bring new donors in, but it’s even more important to keep the donors you have.

The 2017 edition of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project results was recently published. Here are some of the sobering findings from 10,829 non-profit organizations:

  • Every $100 gained in 2016 was offset by $95 in losses.
  • Every 100 donors gained in 2016 was offset by 99 donors not giving again.
  • The greatest gains were in new donors.
  • The greatest losses were in new donors not giving again.
  • The average donor retention rate was 45%.
  • The average dollar retention rate was 48%.

(Gains are gifts by new donors + recaptured lapsed donors + increases in gift amounts. Losses are decreases in gift amounts + lost gifts by lapsed new and lapsed repeat donors.)

What does this tell us? Organizations do a poor job at keeping their donors, and as a result, they are continually chasing new donors, at great expense.

It’s much more cost-effective to keep the donors you have than to continually chase new donors.

The results vary by size of organization. Smaller organizations fare much poorly that larger organizations, which means resources dedicated to retaining donors make a difference.

The FEP site has tools to help you analyze your data so you can make decisions on where to put your time and money in keeping your donors engaged. It’s not just about the bottom line of how much comes in. You need to know who your donors are.

Don’t treat all your donors the same. Heap more love on your loyal donors and ask them to give more. But do make sure new donors know they are valued and welcome, and chances are some will give again and again.

Julie Mikuska.

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Volunteers strengthen your organization

Volunteers can strengthen your organization if you’re able to define your needs and how they can be filled by them. You have to have a plan to oversee the volunteers, and to evaluate and assess¬†the effectiveness of your volunteer program.

Your volunteers must be an integral part of your organization, not just “those people in your boardroom stuffing envelopes”. While that is a worthwhile endeavour, chances are people willing to give their time have some talent that you can tap into to help even more.

Some examples:

  • offer training in researching potential donors for a major gifts program. Curious people who love research appreciate this type of opportunity. They can even do it at home, on their time.
  • many professionals are willing to help on a short-term or project basis in areas such as:
    • communications and marketing
    • mentoring staff and board
    • graphic design
    • human resources or legal advice
    • technology and social media
    • strategic and management planning
  • relationship management – make the most of your database by using volunteers to record your ongoing relationship with your donors and friends. Training on not only how to enter data, but how to produce reports will help you better manage your fundraising program.
  • ambassadors – the volunteers you have most certainly talk about your organization outside of their volunteer hours. Make sure you equip them with the key messages you want to convey and empower them to use them!

How can you use volunteers in your organization?

Laura Mikuska

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