March 25, 2013

Why nonprofits have low retention rates (and how to fix it)

Why donor retention should be a priority

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, marketers, Web publishers.

John HaydonDid you know that nonprofits as a whole have a donor retention rate of 49 percent? Retention rate refers to the percentage of donors who make another gift or have an ongoing relationship with a nonprofit.

That number is astonishingly low compared to business’s customer retention rate of 94 percent.

Why the huge gap? I mean, you’d typically expect that people who support issues like gay rights and global warming would be repeat donors. But nonprofits rarely make donor retention a priority.

To help shed some light on this, I called Marc Pitman, an expert on fundraising. “Instead of talking about annual donors, we should think about nonprofits’ relationships with donors,” he said.

In this 13-minute video, we talk about:

  • How fundraising jargon and fiscal calendar thinking has hurt retention rates
  • Why making a second ask in 90 days can increase retention
  • How setting expectations creates better donor-centric relationships
  • How you can leverage events to boost retention
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