If there’s a mantra we need to adopt for 2013 it’s “Save the Donors!”

Donor Retention rates are getting worse, even as fundraising increased slightly, according to the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute (www.afpnet.org/FEP).

A few years ago, we knew that out of 100 donors, we would lose about 35% of them due to moving away, passing away, or simply going away. Most donors become disinterested in the work our organization is doing and decide that another nonprofit is more worthy of their gift.   The report from AFP shows that for every 100 donors, we’re losing 107 for a net loss.

Folks, this is BAD news! Donor Retention Facts

Professional fundraisers MUST wake up and spend more time building relationships, stewarding gifts, and helping donors feel special. We can no longer afford to take donors for granted. A donor is way more important than the check she writes.  You need her around for the long haul, not just for this year’s annual fund.

I believe the answer is in communication.

In my own experience as a donor, there are few organizations that communicate with me in a warm, friendly way.  A couple of my favorite nonprofits send me stuff that makes me feel like an outsider, which doesn’t exactly make me want to send another gift.  If someone were to actually visit me and talk to me about what’s important, who knows how much I might give! But no one has ever bothered to take the time.

How many donors do you have who feel that same way?

Probably more than you want to know.

It’s time to get serious about keeping our donors.

Try this: instead of thinking of them as donors, think of them as friends. How would you talk to a friend? How often would you reach out to your friend?

What are the steps you need to take to develop a friendship?  Make a list.  Chances are good that they aren’t that different than what you need to do to build a relationship with a donor.

Don’t let these friendships that are vital to your organization languish.

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