I’m disgusted and frustrated. You should be, too.
Once again, the already horrible existing-donor and new-donor retention rates in the USA have further declined, according to the 2016 Donor Retention Report issued recently as part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Urban Institute Fundraising Effective Project.
Among new donors, the report says:
An alarming finding in this research is that the New Donor Retention rate has been steadily declining since 2008, averaging a reduction of -3.4% year over year.”
The new-donor retention rate in 2008 was a terrible 29.35 percent. By 2015, that dropped to an even more pitiful 22.93 percent!
Among existing donors, the retention rate has dropped by an average of 1.68 percent since 2008. In 2008, the existing-donor retention rate was 67.88 percent compared to just 60.23 percent in 2015.
I’m puzzled. Since 2008, there have been books written about how to effectively retain more donors. There have also been seminars, workshops, webinars, articles, and blog posts offering superb advice on the subject. Yet, despite the wealth of available information, the numbers are steadily declining.
In the past, when I’ve been confronted by poor retention data, I’ve offered helpful tips. You can search my site for “donor retention.” However, for now, I’m too fed up to offer more tips here. I don’t even believe you need more information to retain more donors. Something else is going on, and I want to understand it. I hope you’ll help me.
It’s your turn now. Please tell me, as a comment below or via email:
- What major obstacles do you face at your nonprofit organization when it comes to increasing donor retention?
- While it would be bad enough if donor retention rates simply did not improve and merely remained in place, what is driving the numbers steadily downward?
- Do you know the retention numbers for your organization? If not, why not?
- What would it take to improve your organization’s retention rates, and why aren’t you doing it?
Individual charities are losing massive amounts of support because of feeble donor-retention efforts. The report mentions that increasing an organization’s donor-retention rate by just one-percentage point can have a significant impact in just one year. Organizations of $500,000 to $1 million in size would see a single-year gain of $11,759. Organizations over $5 million in size would see a single-year gain of $186,873. These numbers don’t even reflect increases to the lifetime value of donors nor do they reflect the long-term impact that the increased retention rates can have on major gift and planned gift fundraising.
Let’s get serious about donor retention. Let’s get a conversation started. What’s going on!?!
If your organization is ready to get serious about donor retention, you can contact me directly.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?