What charitable foundations can do to improve retention rates

Nonprofit organizations can't afford to ignore the costs of donor flight. In other words, there should a be a larger focus on retaining donors than attracting new ones, and that requires a significant investment in changing the way charities view contributors. Writing for The Agitator, an online resource for nonprofit fundraising and marketing, Roger Craver explained there are two distinct ways that philanthropic groups perceive their donors.

Improve donor services
Craver described one approach that focuses on the costs associated with maintaining a strong base, which involves keeping expenses down when providing donors with services. From another perspective, some nonprofits view investing in strong services as a way to generate revenue. The logic behind the second idea is that donors will be more loyal and connected to a nonprofit that puts forth the financial and human resources necessary to address all concerns and issues.

On the other hand, charitable foundations that equate strong donor services with a budgetary shortfall will likely create less meaningful and effective relationships with contributors. In fact, The Agitator indicated 20 percent of donors become disengaged and cut off ties with a nonprofit group because services don't meet their expectations. In a guest post for npENGAGE, co-founder of Sidekick Solutions Jeff Haguewood explained that increasing donor retention rates rests on the assumption that people who contribute to a cause or a charity expect some kind of value out of the experience.

Keep the conversation going
Regardless of how altruistic a donor is, anyone who supports a nonprofit organization would like to know where their money is going. Part of donor services is keeping contributors in the loop as a project gets going, and letting people see the results of their pledge. This can be as simple as an acknowledgement after an individual responds to an online donation request. In other words, nonprofits should be responsive when dealing with donors. A remittance for a contribution should be emailed immediately when possible or sent within three to five business days through the mail.

Other channels open up a wide variety of opportunities for organizations to interact with donors to show they are interested in keeping in touch. After an individual contributes to a fundraising pledge drive, it's a good idea to follow up with targeted emails or text messages that directly address the same issues or concerns that a donor supported previously. At the same time, showing the impact of their fundraising efforts can help keep individuals connected to a charity's initiatives or programs.


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