attrition

Are Our Hiring Practices Following Our Fundraising Goals?

Are Our Hiring Practices Following Our Fundraising Goals?

For the last several years, the idea of donor retention has been much discussed.  Thought leaders like Adrian SargeantPenelope BurkJay Love and so many others including those associated with the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, have urged us to improve our stewardship practices telling us that donor attrition will rates will never improve if we don’t continue to improve our stewardship practices.  As a result, we’ve all worked harder to acknowledge gifts in a more timely fashion, more sincerely, and more creatively with mixed results.  We’ve also worked to be more creative and faithful about reporting back to our donors about the impact of their gifts, again, with mixed results.  Reports on our practices continue to find uneven practices with some of us acknowledging gifts swiftly, others slowly, and still others, not at all.

In the years that we have spent talking about donor stewardship and its importance for donor retention, little seems to have changed.  In fact, if anything, donor retention rates have continued their downward spiral and the problem has gotten worse.  

Why has it been so difficult to make head-way on this problem? Why has it been so hard to turn the ship around on these issues? 

Building the Donor Pipeline

Building the Donor Pipeline

The 2013 donor retention rates are in:  39%.  Annually, we lose 61% of all our donors.

With donor retention rates at all-time lows, one of the things that all nonprofit organizations have to work toward is acquiring new donors.  We have to keep the building the pipline by finding new donors.

With good reason, much has been written about how to retain donors and people across our profession, in workshops, webinars, conference presentations, journals, and blogs have advised, coached, and advocated that we take steps to stem the tide of donor attrition.  This is all excellent advice.  We do absolutely need to work to retain our existing donors—especially since an existing donor costs less to retain than a new one does to acquire—but even if we’re able to improve retention 10-20%, we’re still in need of aggressive annual efforts to acquire new donors.