You Lost 60% of Your Donors. It Didn’t Need to Happen

ensuring sustainable resources Jun 10, 2024
You Lost 60% of Your Donors. It Didn’t Need to Happen


Did you know that on average, not-for-profits lose more than 60% of their donors each year? The unnecessary work this turnover creates also causes financial strain. Studies show that a lack of communication is a leading cause for donors to drop off. What are you doing about it?


Bear with me while I tell my story.


I have raised millions of dollars for not-for-profit organizations, from universities to arts agencies to schools… I researched what works and what doesn't. And the results spoke for themselves.


On the other hand, I give a fairly high percentage of my income to charities and other causes, individually and through giving circles. I’ve spoken to many donors in my situation, and we seem to agree on what works for us, and (no surprise) it reflects the evidence in fund development.


I used to give a few thousand dollars a year to a university program. I asked if they could acknowledge my donation (not even a thank you!). No joy other than an annual generated financial statement. I stopped giving. No one seemed to notice as no one contacted me to inquire if there was a reason.


I used to give a few thousand dollars a year to a political party that reflected my values. I got the tax receipt but that was it. I stopped giving. No one seemed to notice, as no one contacted me to inquire if there was a reason.


I used to give a few hundred dollars monthly to a school in need. No one acknowledged receipt of the money, not even the financial statement referenced above! I stopped giving after two years. No one seemed to notice, as no one contacted me to inquire if there was a reason.


And there are many more. I am a philanthropic guy, of advanced years, no dependents. You would think that I would be a prime target. Not.


My point? People give for a reason. They have many choices. Obviously your issue or mission or values resonate with your donors. But how do they know if you don't tell them their dollars are making a difference?

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And it is not that hard.


Consider, by group blast:

  • A monthly “welcome” to new donors;
  • A monthly or quarterly newsletter;
  • An annual reception or event of thanks.


Consider, by individual contact:

  • A simple email message;
  • A simple email video message;
  • A handwritten card of thanks;
  • A telephone call of thanks.


Consider automating the process for the initial welcome and thanks.


Share information about your mission, values and impact. Highlight programs and services.


But remember that one size does not fit all. Some post to social media, assuming that their donors are on the selected platforms. Not true unless you have evidence. Consider surveying your donors to determine their preferred channels of communication. And don’t believe everyone when they say that they do not need to be thanked or informed.


Are these a lot of work? Not necessarily. I used to send a few thank you cards at the end of each day. But even if they are a bit of work (a newsletter, e.g.), consider the return on investment!


Your donors value and support you! Don’t they deserve to be acknowledged, thanked, and maybe even engaged, so they keep on giving?


We want to help. Just let us know that we are!



What are your main “pain points” in retaining donors?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!

Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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