Before we continuing exploring the new, new things and better ways to do the old, old things, Tom and I thought it good to pause for an intermission and remind ourselves and fellow Agitators of some fundraising fundamentals that we lose sight of at our peril.

Thus, in this two-part Agitator Intermission we want to: 1) reinforce attention to what we consider the most fundamental problem facing nonprofits — donor retention; and, (2) give a reminder that there are a set of basic principles that guide us all. Virtually immutable laws we ignore at our peril — and disastrous retention rates.

Let’s use Part 1 to focus on a startling Infographic prepared by Bloomerang, the new CRM company with a heavy focus on retention, founded by veteran Jay Love, who also started e-Tapesty decades ago. (See Agitator’s earlier review on Bloomerang here.

Please take a moment to study Bloomerang’s Donor Retention Infographic:

Using data from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and a range of information from the commercial sector, the Infographic leads with this startling statistic:

  • Commercial businesses retain 94% of their customers while the nonprofit sector retains only 41% of its donors.
  • And, retention in our sector is getting worse not better. Over the past 5 years retention rates have dropped nearly 10%.
  • Only 65 of the 2,377 nonprofits studied had a retention rate over 70%.

For those Agitator readers who wonder why Tom and I keep repeatedly hammering away on ‘retention’ and  ‘donor commitment’, this Infographic shockingly tells why.

I urge you to read Jay Love’s full post on this infographic. You’ll find his insights and recommendations over on Katya Andressen’s terrific blog by clicking here.

While there’s plenty you can do to boost retention, there’s one action that leads the list: Once a year revisit the basics of fundraising.

That’s exactly what we’ll do tomorrow with help from another veteran — fundraising consultant Ken Burnett, who reminds us:

“Fundraising to change the world is no less important than making and serving of sushi or the art of judo or jujitsu.

“Yet in our ranks we have no such discipline that demands this level of dedication to mastering the basics before permission is granted to move forward.”

What’s your retention rate?


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