Donor Retention: Small Improvement, Big Impact

Mar 12, 2019

For the last 10 years, donor retention rates have remained lower than 50%. The 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s results show a 45.5% donor retention rate. A slight improvement in retention rates can have a big impact.

According to Adrian Sargeant’s classic research in Building Donor Loyalty, he offers three drivers: 

1. Donor Satisfaction

  • Donors who are very satisfied are twice as likely to be giving next year as those who are merely satisfied
  • Donor perceptions of the quality of service provided to them is primarily measured through the pattern of communications and the content, style and tone of communications

2. Commitment

  • Donor commitment is nurtured through multiple engagements and diverse opportunities to engage

3. Trust

  • Trust is built by communicating impact and ensuring that communications match donor expectations in respect of content, frequency and quality

All three of these drivers are directly related to communications and supporter experience. Your data should facilitate your ability to deliver an awesome supporter experience that is tailored and meaningful.  

Are all your supporter interactions captured in your fundraising system? Not just the big ones, but all of them: volunteering, attending events, opening emails, completing surveys. If not, then you are missing key ingredients in your ability to measure engagement. And if you can’t measure engagement, you can’t identify donors that are at-risk of lapsing (to pre-empt attrition).  

Do you have pockets of data in spreadsheets, in other systems, and in people’s heads? If so, how can you ensure that communications are coordinated to prevent over-communication or under-communication? Your data strategy has a direct impact on the supporter experience.  

Emily Dalton
Emily Dalton is the Vice President of Product Management at Omatic Software where she leads product development teams to build and deliver products that customers love. Previously, she worked at Blackbaud for 10+ years as a Senior Product Manager and as a Product Marketing Manager, gaining a broad perspective of the nonprofit technology landscape. She spent several years with Blackbaud in London learning about an entirely different nonprofit market. Emily holds bachelor’s degrees in English & Sociology from The College of Charleston and a master’s degree in Business from The Citadel.