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Things to Consider This Week (A-E)

A fundraiser's stroll through the alphabet

February 7, 2013 By Pamela Barden
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It's a fact of fundraising that some donors only give once and never again. Others give multiple times but then stop giving. But just because that's reality, fundraisers should never calmly accept it. Instead, we need to fight to the death to keep our donors, using the weapons of creative strategies that are designed to retain or re-acquire our donors.

For the next few weeks, I'll be wandering through the alphabet, giving you a few ideas to consider as you strategize to combat donor loss. So, let's get started!

A is for attrition
Attrition, or donor churn, is alive and well at every nonprofit. Donors are dying, moving away, transferring their support to other causes or just plain losing interest. Knowing what your rate of attrition is for the past three to five years, and if it's going up, down or staying the same, is the first step to managing this inevitable problem.

Once you know your attrition rate, another "A" kicks in — acquisition. How are you going to replace those donors that you simply can't salvage, no matter how hard you try? (And you are trying, right? You do have a strategy for lapsed recovery, don't you?)

In my experience, the best way to convince a board and senior management that you need to invest in acquisition is to show them a worsening trend in your attrition rate. So this week, if you don't know your attrition rate, take steps to calculate this critical statistic.

B is for boredom
I have long contended that some donors stop giving (causing growing attrition) because we bore them to death. Decide if your organization is guilty by first laying out the last year's worth of newsletters, direct-mail packages and other mailings on the table. Surround them with printouts of your e-communications.

Then step back a few feet and take a bird's-eye view of what your donors see month after month. Is it exciting? Or is it predictable enough to become "white noise" in the lives of your donors? Change for change's sake isn't the goal here, but consider if your communications are varied enough to keep your donors engaged.

C is for convenience
Now, take a look at your online donation page, your printed reply cards and any other method you provide for a donor to make a gift. Are you inadvertently hurting response by sacrificing convenience for your donors for easier processing or a savings of a few cents by using smaller paper?

 

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