Originally posted on the Chimp blog. Read it here.
Keeping donors happy, engaged and connected (or just keeping them at all) is a communications issue. Yes, you need to ask them to give (by fundraising), but what you do after someone gives and before you ask them to give again makes all the difference – to you, to them and to your bottom line.
You don’t have to believe me. Believe donors themselves. Here’s an excerpt from the 2014 Cygnus Research Donor Survey:
Donors were asked whether they would give again and give more generously the next time to a not-for-profit that acknowledged their first gift promptly, and reported their progress in measurable terms. 67% said they would definitely or probably renew, 52% would make a larger gift and 67% would continue to give indefinitely.
Donors aren’t exactly asking for the world here are they? They want to be thanked and told how they are making a difference because of their donation. That seems reasonable enough, but the latest stats from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project clearly shows that charities are not doing a very good job here.
- The median donor retention rate is 43%
- For every 100 new and returning donors, 102 donors are lost
- For every $100 gained from new and returning donors, $92 is lost
And those stats are an improvement compared to 2013’s report (see donor retention infographic below).
Much of this is related to an organization’s lack of ability to measure and report on impact. Measuring impact can be difficult and complex, which isn’t an excuse, but it does create a communications need and challenge.
Telling great stories, about impact, progress, or solutions, can be a great substitute for lack of concrete measurement. You can even make a pretty good argument that stories, particularly those that evoke emotion, are even more important than numbers when it comes to giving donors content they want.
Stories also have two other benefits:
- They are easier to re-tell and spread to others, and
- They can inspire people into action.
Listing off a bunch of numbers gives people confidence, but it’s not easy to tell your friends in ways that make them care. Stories can. And giving more information, facts and figures can help bolster an argument, but it’s stories (of people, of need, of hope) that make people feel something and take action.
Webinar: Using Stories That Add Wow! Factor
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2014 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey Report Donor Retention Infographic from Bloomerang