Roger surprised and impressed me yesterday with the incredible display of patience and tolerance displayed in his post, Donor Retention: Good News And Poor Excuses.

The ‘good news’ in his post was that, according a Boomerang survey of 775 nonprofits, 67% are tracking their donor retention rate, as compared to 55% in 2014.

That improvement moved Roger to write: “At last! I’m pleased to report that there seems to be some evidence that more and more fundraisers are paying attention to the issue of donor retention.”

He did caution — with amazing equanimity — we are far from “breaking out the champagne…”

Because the Boomerang results suggest that ‘only’ 33% of nonprofits are still not paying attention to this crucial measure of fundraising effectiveness.

I’ll be the bad cop on this one.

First of all, of those who are tracking, only 36% have set a specific goal for improving their retention rate. That’s 36% of the 67%, or 24%. So, only one in four nonprofits cares enough and deems it important enough to have a specific goal for improving their retention rates.

Those are the ONLY 24% of nonprofits I would suggest you give a dime to.

As for the 33% who are not even tracking retention rates, their excuses were pathetic. So pathetic I won’t even repeat them.

For those nonprofits, were I to be placed in charge, on that very day I would fire the person directly responsible for fundraising, as well as the executive who hired that person in the first place … let’s be real, we’re dealing with ‘dumb and dumber’ in these nonprofits.

Why would anyone entrust donor money to a nonprofit that had neither care nor clue about retaining donors? If their leadership is that unintelligent about fundraising, what does that say about their management of the other aspects of their mission?

I wrote a post on Monday titled Worst Fundraising Mistake.

Michael Rosen commented:

“Sadly, there are a great many critical mistakes that charities routinely make. What’s particularly frustrating to me at this point in my long career is that many of the issues we’re discussing today, we were discussing decades ago.

Let’s take a look at donor retention as an example. The sector has been talking about the issue for years, yet retention rates have fallen and continue the downward slide. During the decline in retention rates, an increasing amount of research and educational information became available to assist charities. However, despite the availability of excellent how-to information (e.g., Roger’s book), retention continues the downward slide. Why?”

Michael went on to mention unidentified “structural obstacles” as the cause, and said we had to remove those.

I’m not sure what obstacles he had in mind.

I do know the ‘obstacle’ I have in mind: incompetent individuals hired to do fundraising. Note that I didn’t call them ‘fundraisers’. Because they’re not fundraisers. They’re imposters … holding back the charities and causes they’re meant to be serving.


This article was posted in: Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising philosophy/profession, Nonprofit management.
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