It’s August; do you know where your donors are?

For more than 20 years I had my auto and homeowners insurance with the same agent – Greg.  I don’t remember how I started with Greg except that we went to school together and at one time attended the same church. 

In all those years, I never shopped.  I was loyal… and probably lazy.  It just seemed easier to renew.  

Two years ago, while doing the household budget I realized that I was insuring a nice house, 5 cars, and 5 drivers including 3 teenagers.  The annual total for this coverage was close to the Gross Domestic Product of Belize I think. 

Then it hit me – in more than 20 years, the only times I ever heard from Greg was when he wanted to ‘up sell’ me on something.  He never took me to lunch, sent tickets for an event or show, sent a handwritten thank you note, or just called to catch up.  Greg did not care about me.  My loyalty was ridiculously misplaced.  For years I had been paying more than I should and giving my business to someone who really didn’t appreciate it.

Of course I shopped and got a much better deal and called Greg’s office to cancel.  I was stunned when he didn’t call me back to try to talk me out of it or find out why – proof positive that I made the right decision.  

It is 5 to 12 times less expensive to retain a donor you have than to acquire a new one. 

Many people in fundraising have never even considered measuring their donor retention rate.  Oh sure they may know about retention in the direct mail file but they are clueless about event donors, major gifts donors, and online contributors. 

How much of your annual budget is devoted to donor retention and renewal activities as opposed to acquisition activity?  What does your donor appreciation program look like?  How many of your loyal donors do you and your staff really know?  What is the lifetime value of your median donor?   What strategy have you developed to keep and upgrade the donors you’ve acquired?  Do you care? 

Do yourself a favor… Don’t be Greg.