Invest. Experience. Loyalty. Retention. Income. Repeat.

If you are able to keep your donors longer, you will raise more funds for your cause. Simple as that.

The simplest way I can explain it:

We invest in our staff and our fundraising programs. This should result in the best possible experience for both potential and existing donors. This influences satisfaction, commitment and trust, which constitute the donor’s attitude towards the charity. In other words: increased donor loyalty. This leads to the desired behaviour: higher retention rates. In turn this results in more income, which can be invested again. In projects for our beneficiaries, in staff and our fundraising program. And repeat.

Long-term thinking will raise you more funds. Probably more than you can imagine. Do the math. Seriously, just calculate it. If you can improve your donor loyalty only a small bit, the long-term effect is huge. Professor Adrian Sargeant clarifies:

“This happens because the effect compounds over time. If you have 10 per cent more donors still giving at the end of the current year you have 10 per cent more people giving to the organization through year two. In the second year you’ll lose 10 per cent fewer of these and lose fewer of the balance in each subsequent year. Over time the effect mounts up.”

Write this down: to improve donor loyalty we need to improve the donor experience.

Now, you’ve heard of The Commission on the Donor Experience, right? Ken Burnett and Giles Pegram can’t seem to stop talking about it. And that’s a good thing. Ken told me the following:

“The Commission is setting out to capture, define and summarise the very best thinking and practices so that together we can present the best way for fundraisers to implement a donor-based approach to the business of raising money to change the world.”

The Commission is going for two outputs. First, a crowd sourced documented set of donor-focused best practice. Second, an army of change agents. This crowd of enthusiasts will first co-create the best practice and subsequently they should start as the first group to implement it.

This army is already 500+ fundraisers!  And you can also join this initiative. You should! If you believe that donor-focused fundraising and long term or relational thinking is the way forward.

I’ve signed-up straightaway. Why? Because I believe we can do much better. We must do better if we want to tackle the world’s biggest problems. There is too much short-term thinking floating around in our sector. Along the way we’ve forgotten that we actually need donors. I’ve said it before:

“We need to value donors as much as we need value from them.”

There are too many non-evidence based decisions being taken. It’s a result of inexperience, short-sightedness and a clear signal that people don’t know what they’re doing. It’s hurting the sector and therefor it’s hurting the causes we fight for.

Apart from being one of the enthusiasts I am now also one of the project leads for the Commission:

I’m collecting as many examples of great donor-focused fundraising as possible. The purpose is to collect good, short examples of fundraising initiatives that provide donors and potential donors with the most rewarding, enjoyable and productive experience possible.

And I need your help. Together we can collect the best examples. Let’s shape the future of fundraising together.

You have three options. Comment underneath. Email me your thoughts. Or fill out this form and forward it to me.

Pretty please with a cherry on top. Thank you.

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