Tue, November 20 2012

How to reduce donor attrition in three minutes

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Here’s the bad news.

As if we needed more bad news about our ability to retain donors…  The Chronicle of Philanthropy shares that donors aren’t just annoyed by our lack of follow-up—they are really, really annoyed. (Read here.)

More than 20 percent of donors say they were never even thanked!

So the obvious remedy is to thank donors, tell them what their gift accomplished and report on your progress in your mission.

What’s the best way to do that?  Here’s the three-minute trick.

Pell & Bales sent me this hot tip - which reinforces what Chuck Longfield told me last week.

Read their step-by-step, three minute solution here, but the headline is:

-Pick up phone
-Call donor
-Talk about donor and what donor did that was amazing for real people:
-Don’t ask them for more money - just say thanks again

Pell & Bales say that three-minute call drastically reduces attrition (see below).  And their findings are in line with those of Chuck, who says taking the time to phone supporters and thank them for their gift lifts their giving by 40 percent.

Want to have amazing results this holiday?  Pick up the phone and say thanks.  Do a couple of calls a day.  It feels good, and it does good.*

*Thanks to Charlie Hulme of Pell & Bales for the tip!

  • Comment: (3)   


Great article. You might also ask the donor’s permission to post a public thank you on your Web site.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  06:17 AM

Dear Katya,

Thank you for your blog. It helps to raise the awareness of where the real problem lies and that is not in a lack of thanking, but rather in our misunderstanding of what true giving is. Why do we give? Is it to be thanked, remembered for our generosity, to have a statue erected in our honour? Is it for the receiving of recognition of our giving that will elevate other’s opinions of who we are? This is not giving, this is loan with interest, or an investment with a specific expected return on investment.

I am not saying that we should not thank our donors, but what I am saying, is that our donors need to come to the understanding that the act of giving is the reward itself and all the thanks that are necessary.

Forgiveness is important in this concept of giving. In its Old English and intended meaning, it was the act of Fore-Giving, or rather giving before receiving. It was understood to mean that the act of giving to someone else was indeed the very act of giving to oneself.

No one can force a donor to give without their free and willing participation. If we seek to continue to elevate the status of giving in this manner, we seek to perpetuate a society of haves and have nots. Is charity then just a bandaid on the festering wound of scarcity and a perception that it is unsolvable?

What I am saying is that in a world where giving is viewed as the reward itself, we can actually realise a world where all needs are met. I even have a practical working solution to this problem which is live today. I would be happy to share with any potential donors how they can give to create a world where all needs are truly met!

Posted by George Kaponay  on  11/26  at  11:51 AM

Re the previous comment on “where the problem lies”—to each their own, but I think it misses the OTHER major point of the special effort to thank donors, that being to share with them the effect of their gift. Should one give without concern for recognition? I would agree with Mr. Kaponay. Should one give without concern for effectiveness/progress/impact? I don’t think so.

Posted by Bret Hern  on  11/27  at  07:40 PM

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