Escape from Fairy-Tale Fundraising—Roger Craver, Part 2

Roger CraverPart 1—In which Roger advises how to stem the tide of lost donors.

Roger Craver tells it like it is. Right now, he’s all about donor loyalty, all the time. That’s because nonprofits like yours are losing 7 of 10 donors every year. That adds up to a 25% decrease in retention rate over the last ten years. Ugh!

Here, in this out take from the fabulous Engage Conference last month, Roger drills down into the specific changes in mindsets, methods and metrics essential to your organization’s growth. (Teaser: Marketing plays a vital role here.)

Get your donor-centered Mindset in place

1) Commit to retention—Your shift here is worth $250,000 in lifetime value (LTV) of each donor if you do it right.

2) Banish these time- and money-wasters:

  • Obsession with overhead
  • Overfocus on the new and shiny, just because it’s shiny
  • Sloppy testing, or none at all
  • Barricading staff in their silos or tying them up in too many meetings.

3) Embrace these paths to happily ever after:

  • Investment in donor services
  • Consistent donor communications
  • All-org fundraising team—everyone does it, all the time
  • Staff training and appreciation.

Put these Methods into play

1) Show board and donors the value of investing in acquisition and retention, using case studies of competing orgs when possible.

2) Put a Donor Services program in place, including:

  • Thank you process—tweaked and tested
  • Donor feedback and resolution system
  • Marketing, a.k.a. keeping donor relationships strong between your asks
  • Training and support for your team (after you ask for their help).

3) Seek alternative funding for your donor program—Earned income, mergers or acquisitions, bonds or equity (I’ll ask Roger more about this titillating idea)

4) Hunt down drivers and killers of donor commitment and loyalty.

Use  these Metrics to assess & fine-tune your approach
1) Retention rates (annual)

2) LTV by source

3) ROAI (return on acquisition investment-annual)

4) Ratio of dollars earned for every 1 point increase in retention rate.

Clear, ambitious but highly-doable! Thank you, Roger.

Part 1
—In which Roger advises how to stem the tide of lost donors.

P.S. Get more in-depth case studies, templates and tools for nonprofit marketing success in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe now.

Nancy Schwartz on June 6, 2013 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 2 comments
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  • Roger Craver


    Thank you for taking time to summarize what I believe will prove to be the key Mindsets, Metrics and Methods for those organizations that want to thrive in the future. Unfortunately, there is no one silver bullet or magic want. No new and improved premiums, larger envelopes, special address labels and other elixirs.

    As you’ve noted there is enormous potential in every donor base ( our studies have shown on average $250,000 for every 1,000 donors) that can indeed be unlocked if only organizations change their ways. This means, of course, putting the donor front and center and conducting all activity with the donor clearly in mind.

    Most of the improvements organizations can make do not cost additional money. In fact they save money. Get rid of so many meetings (a huge waste in most organizations). Get rid of the territoriality and sovereignty of the departmental or functional “Silo”, including getting rid of anyone in the organization who vehemently defends their silo.

    Again, my thanks, not only for the summary but for all the good practices you preach in “Getting Attention” and your tireless efforts to encourage change.

    Roger Craver

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