Donor retention

Published on May 31, 2016 by

The perfect donor thank you letter – from an Aussie dairy farmer

The perfect donor thank you letter – from an Aussie dairy farmer

If you’re an Aussie, the plight of our dairy farmers has been big news over the last few weeks. Here is one of the many articles about it.

The Australian public responded, trying to buy locally produced, non-Coles or non-Woolworths milk. My Facebook feed (and probably yours) has been filled with people trying to work out which brands of milk and dairy products to buy that will help Australian dairy farmers.

In the midst of all this, the following post caught my eye. This is an example of an almost perfect thank you letter in social media format. Although it’s ...

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Published on April 6, 2016 by

A thank you letter for EVERY donation? Really?

A thank you letter for EVERY donation? Really?

A client asked me last week whether you need to send your donors a thank you letter after EVERY donation they send in. Because the donor admin department doesn’t want to send gift acknowledgements and thank you letters after each gift. “It’s much more efficient to just send one annual statement at the end of the financial year. We save money and it’s much less hassle.” So let’s think about this. ...

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Published on March 9, 2016 by

Why fundraising appeal metrics suck

Why fundraising appeal metrics suck


During a masterclass with Roger Craver of The Agitator fame, one of the things he talked about was the reliance on lag indicators.

Lag indicators are things like appeal metrics – income raised, response rate, average gift.

Or the traditional RFM (recency, frequency and monetary value) model often used during data selection for an appeal.

But these measures only give you a snapshot of what donors have done in the past. They don’t give you a view of how they will behave in future.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t track these things. But relying on them alone to make ...

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Published on July 14, 2015 by

What’s your donor lifetime value: $50, $2500 or $10,000+?

I’ve been discussing acquisition with various clients this year.

And the importance of following up – FAST – on any new donors you get.

Because if you don’t do this, the lifetime value of those donors will remain low.

In fact, you may never recoup the cost of acquiring them… if they never give to you again.

Today’s lesson is: if you’re going to invest in acquisition, have a plan to steward and upgrade your new donors.

Here are the numbers on lifetime value.

A new donor who never gives again has a lifetime value of their first gift only. ...

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Published on July 3, 2014 by

Will your donors trust you – even after a scandal like this?

I was initially outraged by this case. But it highlighted some important questions about donor relationships.

If you keep up-to-date on non-profit news then you’ll probably be aware of a $24.6 million settlement involving a US veterans charity and their fundraisers.

You can read about it here and here. But it basically involves the charity paying lots of money to its fundraisers and never getting an acceptable return on that investment. The upshot is that very little of the funds raised ever went to veterans.

(Experienced fundraisers know that you often lose money on acquisition of new donors ...

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Published on April 8, 2014 by

Could you too get a $200,000 major gift?

Last week I called a client to clarify something about an upcoming tax appeal. During the conversation, he informed me a major donor had just made a gift of $200,000 to the current appeal we had worked on together.

This gift, he said, had the office high-fiving and whooping with joy. I have to admit I, too, was very excited for them.

This $200,000 windfall represented a significant proportion of the income budgeted for the year for this charity. In other words, they’re not a multi-million-dollar non-profit.

BUT… I wanted to point out a few lessons about this particular gift. ...

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Published on March 6, 2014 by

Why the donor journey concept sucks

In  discussions about donor nurture and retention, the concept of the donor journey inevitably comes up.

The “traditional” donor journey is often couched in terms of the donor pyramid. That concept of acquiring donors then thanking and welcoming them. Trying to get second gifts. Then getting higher gifts or converting them to monthly giving. Then eventually turning them into major donors or bequestors.

Of course, not every donor follows this exact path. But the general idea is that you try to move donors from their first, often modest, gifts up the donor pyramid to bequests.

But at last week’s FIA ...

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