Reduce Your Donor Attrition in Four Ways

     From Alan Sharpe - The Expert Fundraiser


Your non-profit loses 15 percent of its donors every year, if you are typical. What can you do to reduce that percentage?

First, understand that all non-profit organizations lose donors. Some donors stop giving because they stop living. Others lose their jobs, get a divorce, retire or suffer a business loss. These things are outside of your control.

But some donors fall away because of something you do. Or don't do. Here are a few proven ways to keep your direct mail donors inspired, motivated and giving.

1.Thank donors promptly for every gift
Pick up the phone or mail a thank-you letter or card within 24 hours of receiving every gift, regardless of its size or source. The longer you delay, the more likely you are going to be perceived as ungrateful or disorganized, or both. Donors who are thanked promptly for their gifts are more likely to give again.

2. Show donors how you are using their gifts to change the world
I read in the November 2007 issue of a Quaker peace magazine that the war in Iraq was costing American taxpayer $720 million a day. That's a lot of groceries. With no end to the occupation or the killing in sight. As the deaths of American soldiers continued, and as the costs of the war continued or increased, popular support for this war, such as it is, would decrease. No one wants to throw their hard-earned money at a losing venture.

One sure way to encourage repeat donations and reduce donor attrition is to show donors that their gifts are changing the world, making a difference, changing lives.

3. Balance informing with asking
Don't mail more newsletters than appeals, and vice versa. Strike a balance between asking for funds and informing donors how you are using those funds. Mail an appeal, then a newsletter, then an appeal, and so on.

4. Acquire donors who are most likely to remain loyal
One way to reduce donor attrition is to attract loyal donors in the first place. Before you mail a direct mail donor acquisition package, make sure the people on your list meet your profile of an ideal donor. Avoid front-end premiums and sweepstakes that tend to attract low- dollar donors who vanish after their first gift.

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