Donor Retention – Why Bother?

With charities under ever more pressure to deliver results, at Sixty One we have started to look again at the  thorny issue of supporter retention.  This is the first in a series of articles and extracts from us and colleagues in the charity marketing media for which we are very grateful. We have quoted extensively from interviews about Supporter Retention.

“Retention should be a focus in every donor recruitment campaign,” says Rob Daly, fundraising manager at the NCVO……There are some charities that have vast armies of donors that are very sympathetic to their cause”……

“The retention element of their strategy is not as good as it could be because it’s easy to recruit them in the first place,” says Megan Pacey, director of policy and campaigns at the Institute of Fundraising.

“Donors are far more sophisticated than they used to be,” Pacey says, echoing the fears of the majority of the sector’s fundraisers. “They expect to see bang for their buck.” Unsurprisingly, they also expect to be cared for once they sign up, especially for regular donations which they realise are critical to an organisation’s sustainability and continuity.

Richard Brooks, head of fundraising at WSPA, says the charity’s drive for new donors over the last few years had led it to neglect its cash givers. It had also failed to keep in contact with long term donors, and had previously not attempted to ascertain why donors were taking their money elsewhere. Brooks says WSPA has now shifted its focus from recruitment to an “investment in the future”

In a report from the US based organisation the Cygnus Foundation, they underline the importance of fostering and maintaining supporter relations:

” 82% of respondents said they have continuously supported at least one cause for five years or longer and that reputation and trustworthiness are primary factors in persuading them to remain loyal. But, 48% also said that “achieving and communicating measurable results” is a prominent feature of not-for-profit organisations that engender long-term support.”

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