In college basketball, players are allowed to turn pro after playing one season. This is known as one-and-done. If you watch the NCAA tournament (aka March Madness), it’s likely many of the players won’t be around next year.
Like it or not, it looks like one-and-done will be the norm in college basketball for a while. Another place where one-and-done seems to be the norm is in nonprofit fundraising. According to The Fundraising Effectiveness Report, the retention rate for first-time donors is 23%. It’s been consistently bad for the last several years.
We need to stop hemorrhaging donors. Here are a few ways to avoid having your fundraising go the one-and-done route.
Pay attention to your donor retention
If you don’t know your retention rate, figure that out now. A Guide to Donor Retention Most likely you’re losing donors because you’re either not communicating enough or communicating poorly. Fortunately, this is something you can fix.
Donor loyalty is also important
What you want are high-quality donors who will support you for a long time. You can have the best donor relations program in the world, but that won’t guarantee you’ll keep every donor, although you should keep many more than you would if you do nothing.
Many organizations spend all this time and energy on acquiring donors, concentrating more on volume and don’t seem to be concerned that they’re churning through different donors year after year.
Send welcome packets to new donors, but show the love to your valuable long-time donors, too. Send them a welcome back letter. I’ve donated to several organizations for a number of years, and it bothers me when they don’t acknowledge that.
Given the lousy retention rates, don’t take it for granted when donors support you for more than one year. Otherwise, you could be looking at two-and-through.
Pay attention to your donors. Who’s supported you for three, five, or even ten years? Go the extra mile for these loyal donors. This takes more work, but it will pay off in the long run.
There’s no off-season
Continuing on the sports theme, most athletes train during the off-season and some even play in leagues. You may be between fundraising campaigns, but that doesn’t mean you can take much of a break.
Keep connecting with your donors. You can’t ignore them. Here are some ways to show appreciation and stay in touch throughout the year.
One-and-done is not something you want in your fundraising. Make sure your donors stick with you for a long time.