This morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern we’ll host the Agitator/DonorVoice Webinar on Retention.

We now have 821 folks registered, a healthy sign of the concern over retention among Agitator readers. There’s still some room if you’d like to join us. But even if you can’t attend today you may want to register here so we can send you the recording and materials from the session. Registration is free.

Because we’ve been wringing our Agitator hands over retention for the past 5 years, and because any serious fundraiser who doesn’t live under a rock shares our concern, there was one question we wanted to address in the webinar: “What are you doing differently today to improve retention?”

Answers We Hear Today

As we interviewed organizations and consultants in preparation for this session, among the answers we received:

  • “We are going to do a test with content marketing — no ask, more visuals, fewer touches.”
  • “We are appending the Target Loyalty Tags to change the way we are doing file selection.”
  • “We are in the midst of a long-term cadence test strategy within our appeals stream.”
  • “We are going to do a big push on acquisition to build momentum for file growth.”

What We Didn’t Hear

Frankly, we had hoped for some answers that were a bit more goal-oriented and focused more on actions to improve donor attitudes, as opposed to tactical approaches that deal almost entirely with the transactional behavior of donors.

Why? Because it is the donor’s attitude that ultimately determines the donor’s behavior, the donor’s decision to stay with or leave an organization.

Here’s the type of answer we wished we had heard:

“We have identified five changes our organization is making that we project will add $374,000 additional retention revenue at zero additional cost. These include:

  1. Focusing on our two core messages that matter most to retention, not the other four.
  2. Eliminating two publications that add no value in our donors’ eyes.
  3. Improving our first-call resolution in donor services.
  4. Setting up a donor feedback program on our website and in donor services to mitigate problems when they occur and build relationships in real time.
  5. Creating a meaningfully different experience for our most loyal donors and deriving significantly more revenue from them with no mid-level or major gift officer required.”

We’ll cover this question and much, much more with our colleagues from DonorVoice later this morning. We hope you’ll join us.


Coincidentally, yesterday copywriter Jeff Brooks, continuing his splendid series on Fundraising Hell (a take-off on Dante’s Inferno) described the denizens of the third level — The Gluttonous:

These are the fundraisers who only took, never gave. They gobbled up donors, tossing out one campaign after another to rake in the gifts — but they never thanked donors, never reported back, never gave any thought to building relationships …

They saw donors as resources to consume. Not as fellow human beings and partners in a shared cause. They became great experts in the art of response rates, but knew and cared little about donor retention or upgrading. Low average gifts or abysmal costs-per-donor didn’t bother them — just as long as they got those responses, the gross revenue in the door. They didn’t even care that their approach was profoundly unhealthy and unsustainable.

Their punishment: they lie like beached whales in smelly, slushy pools of semi-frozen sewage. As they were in life, they are blind and unaware of those around them.”

Avoid this fate! Join our retention webinar today.

Roger and Tom

P.S. Remember, if you can’t attend the live session this morning, if you register we’ll make sure you receive the recording of it along with any follow-up materials. Register here.




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