By Sharon Danosky

If I were to give two words of advice to nonprofits and their fundraising teams it would be this: RETENTION MATTERS!

After GIVING USA 2018’s report forecasted a long, hard road ahead for fundraisers, Non Profit Quarterly analyzed the data from last year’s Fundraising Effectiveness Project and noted “The study found that the number of people who gave in 2018 fell by 4.5 percent while the acquisition of new donors fell by 7.3 percent. For smaller nonprofits without connections to wealth, this trend should be considered a warning, especially within the context of slow or flat growth in individual giving overall.”

Further, the interim Giving USA report is showing more donor decline in 2019. What this means is that new donors are hard to come by and current donors can quickly go somewhere else. There are some things that every fundraiser needs to do:

  1. Thank donors quickly, personally and often.
  2. Understand how the money you are raising is being used and communicate that to your donors.
  3. Find ways to engage with your donors. Not in a one-size-fits-all way. Rather, offer opportunities for donors to gather in fun and meaningful ways. That may mean volunteering, attending events, or something else.
  4. Help your donors to find ways that they can give. The once a year, send-in-your-check no longer works for most donors. Recurring gifts and giving through an IRA are two largely untapped means – which are at different ends of the giving spectrum. Use them both, along with other creative ideas you hear that work.
  5. Use peer-to-peer opportunities. Promote your donors – even (or especially) those who give on the lower end.

All of this requires a significant amount of investment, I know. But not to do it will mean a gradual and escalating decline of your development program – which no one can afford.

There are trends on the horizons. There are analyses and studies about how fundraising is changing. We should all be aware and learn how to innovate to remain vital.

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