In case you missed it during the Thanksgiving hubbub, Holly Hall had a great piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on donor retention, called The Vanishing Donor.

The article provides some concrete examples of nonprofits like CARE and the University of Montreal who have improved their retention game, and features advice from fundraising consultant Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising.

The Chronicle has also hosted an online discussion with Ms. Burk in which she elaborates on her analyses of why donors leave … and how nonprofits can do a better job of keeping them.

The key takeaways boil down to:

    • Seek quality donors in the first place (as opposed to volume for volume sake);
    • Thank first time donors as quickly and personally as possible, and don't mix “thank you” with another pitch;
    • Don't over-solicit (Ms. Burk's advice: don't re-ask until you've shown what their last gift has helped accomplish … not bad in theory, but The Agitator thinks pacing is a thornier issue); and,
    • Report results … better still, do it in the context of “here's what your gift made possible.”

Pretty sound advice.

The Agitator develops these themes further in our DonorTrends white paper, Donor Loyalty: The Holy Grail of Fundraising, which combines practical advice on donor retention with extensive original research on donor attitudes about giving and loyalty. You can download a PDF of The Holy Grail here.

PS: Have you taken our “Transparency vs. Privacy” survey? Just click on the survey box at the top right column of the blog.

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