The First Step to Donor Retention is Tracking It

Whether it’s counting calories or using a Fitbit, we all know that once you track something, behavior changes.

So it seems to be with donor retention efforts.

While many nonprofits are generally aware that increases in donor retention will improve fundraising results, most smaller and medium size nonprofits don’t track their donor retention rates, much less do anything to improve them.

But a recent Bloomerang study on donor retention may push some fundraisers into action.

Of the group surveyed, 68% of nonprofits tracking their donor retention saw an increase in their retention rate over the last year.

It looks to me like there is something to this. Nonprofits that track their donor retention are more likely to see improvements in retention.

This makes sense. By just being aware of how many donors renew (and don’t renew), most fundraisers would make different choices, whether or not they call it a donor retention strategy.

The Bloomerang study also surveyed those that don’t track their donor retention rate. The two top specific reasons for not doing it were “we don’t know how” and “we don’t have the tools”.

The tools are out there. If you’re a fundraiser that hasn’t started tracking donor retention, you can start today by using our classic Leaky Bucket workbook which walks readers through the steps of determining donor retention rates. There are other resources out there, too, including this guide from Bloomerang.

But don’t stop at just figuring out your donor retention number. Consider ways to include it in your organization’s monthly fundraising reports. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just the number of donors who have made a repeat gift.

And the good news is that even the awareness of your number can lead to a better number and better donor retention and better fundraising results.

So, take the plunge. Just start tracking your donor retention rate. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to do anything about it. Just see if you don’t make different decisions – and create better strategy – based on having it front and center.

And then let us know how it goes. We love to hear your success stories!

Category: Donor Cultivation, Fundraising General, Individual Giving
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About Leslie Allen
For 15 years I worked for Greenpeace – one of the most powerful brands in the world – and I’ve taken the years of learning at large organizations and translated it to work for mid-sized and smaller grassroots organizations here all over the world. Learn More About Leslie...