Donor Loyalty Study, 2013

The 2013 Sage Insights Survey on Donor Loyalty is now available.   The study conducted by Sage Nonprofit Solutions has some very interesting findings that are sure to bring value to any nonprofit organization.Having had the pleasure of being a contributor to the study I was overwhelmed by the number of participants.  Loyalty continues to be a key theme for nonprofits and a driving force for development professionals.

Ironically, the study found that 67% of the people surveyed are not surveying their own donors.  I find it hard to believe that organizations, especially growing ones can reach their full potential without asking how they can get better and what they are doing well.  For me, surveying is always the thing I recommend an organization start with.  Donor/member feedback, should serve as your guiding light.

I was delighted to find that hand written thank-you notes reigned as the king of loyalty.  I have said it before and I will say it again, the value of a hand written thank-you cannot be over exaggerated.

The study goes on to share examples of what organizations are and aren’t doing today to ensure loyalty, and for those of you that penwere wondering, the most utilized give-away was none other than the classic pen.  My guess is the low-cost and  practicality make it the big winner.

In reviewing the study, I was most shocked to find 29% of nonprofits are doing nothing when a donor lapses.  This is good and bad news.  Great news for those of us looking for new donors and bad news for those of us failing to follow-up.

Overall, the study reveals numerous interesting facts and ideas for how your organization can insure that loyalty is a driving force.

Take-away: Check out the full survey, and see what your organization can do to improve loyalty.

Industry Standard Email Rates

I often get this question: How do we know if our email program is good or bad?

The answer varies for everyone, but Eloqua’s Benchmark study is a great place to start.  They recently compared their benchmark data from Jan.-Nov. in an effort to provide you with some guides for click rates, open rates, and click to open rates.  The results can be seen here, and they even separated Nonprofit out.

Email Benchmarks

Take-away: Check your rates and see how you stack up against the Best in Class.

My Favorite Quotes from Philanthropy Day

National Philanthropy Day was first established in 1986.  The celebration is dedicated to those who give tier time, talents, and treasure for the betterment of society.

Today, I had the pleasure of attending the Austin Chapter of AFP’s celebration.  I was moved by the speeches and touched by the amazing work that is happening in our community.

I think that you may agree the people below are simply outstanding.  Here are my favorite quotes from the day:

Outstanding Small Philanthropic Corporation- Fleming’s

Award winner, Darryl Wittle provided a great tip, “Ask people to provide what they are good at and what they do.” And, he closed his speech with some great advice, “always strive to represent something bigger than yourself.”

Outstanding Large Philanthropic Corporation- HEB

Did you know that HEB has been giving back to the communities they serve for 107 years.  Giving back was a part of what they did in the very beginning.  I think that is amazing.  Thank you HEB for that and your amazing motto, “Each and Every Person Counts.”

Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Brett Barnes is the Development Director of Lifeworks, a favorite customer of ours.  His speech today was charming, funny, and kind all at the same time.  His Mom’s advice to him, “Leave the world a better place than when you entered it.”  I ❤ that!

Outstanding Philanthropists

Jeannie and Mickey Klein were grateful when accepting the award today for their generosity.  Mickey borrowed from the late Darryl Royal when saying, “I don’t deserve this, but I don’t deserve arthritis either.”  While Jeannie reminded everyone that the secret to life may just be found in giving back.  “The more you make {giving} a basic part of your life, the more you find the joy, meaning, and satisfaction in living.”

Outstanding Philanthropic Youth

My favorite award of the day, the philanthropic youth award!  I am always amazed and touched by what these winners have done.  The winner this year started giving back at 13, and as a high school student today, he has founded and runs an insanely successful nonprofit.  His speech, love for his mother, and respect for his educators was remarkable.  I can’t wait to see who Brody Roush becomes…maybe President of this great country.

Take-away: I am in awe of the amazing work being conducted by these amazing people.  I hope you enjoy this amazing day and find inspiration to keep doing what you do.  Thank you!

“A small group of committed citizens can change the world, in fact it is the only thing that ever has.”


10 Things Every Organization Should Do to Enhance Donor Loyalty

As published in:

Developing a solid donor base is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to cultivate a database of constituents who support your mission time and time again, and recommend your organization to others. Many factors are at play in the development of true loyalty, engagement and trust. How your organization utilizes its resources, the impact of your programs and your ability to communicate effectively with donors all factor into the equation and can significantly impact your organization’s ability to earn lasting loyalty.

With the goal of providing you proven, effective methods of increasing donor loyalty, I asked a sample of development professionals for their ideas on this topic. I received dozens of great responses, so thank you to those who provided feedback.

Building an effective program takes time and effort. Here are a few ideas to help you foster the one thing we all desire most, retention.

1. Listen to your donors
Find out what will compel them to further help you achieve your mission. Ask for their advice, and put it to practice.

2. Share your good news
Communication is key to building any relationship, and nonprofit relationships are no different. Think about newsletters, e-mails and face-to-face visits to keep the flow of information open.

3. Measure your success
“In general, donors like to receive regular, measurable and concrete feedback about how their money makes a difference,” says Ursula Pfahl, vice president of business development at Bigham JewelersOpens in a new window, who worked with CMON — The Golisano Children’s Museum of NaplesOpens in a new window. By sharing the impact in real measures, you solidify the good work you are doing.

4. Survey your donors
When Courtney Polster, fund development manager at Agrace HospiceCareOpens in a new window, started surveying her donors, she discovered that a high percentage were utilizing planned-giving vehicles to support a charity — but she was surprised to see how few said hers was their charity of choice for this option. This revelation led to further research. “Quality initiatives like these are helping build a stewardship and recognition program as well as a planned-giving program,” Polster says. “It has been most beneficial!”

5. Leverage donor loyalty

Use your board members to make calls and write thank-you notes. The power of appreciation from a strong board member can go a long way in building loyalty.

6. Involve donor in the cause
By regularly inviting donors to come and see their donations in action, Keith Greer, fundraising and membership coordinator at Popejoy Hall,Opens in a new window has changed the way donors view his organization and increased retention rates by 14 percent and the average donation size by $500. According to Greer, many of Popejoy Hall’s donors always shared the great work of the organization, but with stronger collaboration he has seen a shift in the way donors began talking to their friends after participating in the mission. Now it’s, “Look at what I’m doing to help.” In addition, today he has excited donors asking how they can do more. Greer says that the firsthand experience has “been more powerful for loyalty, engagement and increasing giving than any communication piece we have ever done.”

7. Get social
Create connections in the social networks where your donors spend their time. Connecting socially is very powerful.

According to the 2012 Sage Nonprofit Insights studyOpens in a new window, 84 percent of nonprofits are in social networks, with FacebookOpens in a new window topping the charts. Surprisingly, 69 percent of participants say their organizations are not blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep donors up to date on the status of the organization. Additionally, through social sharing in tools like Facebook and TwitterOpens in a new window, nonprofits can further engage donors and volunteers with those same updates.

8. Customize your approach
“Bottom line: Loyalty comes when we show folks we know them. This means we have to really listen to them. There’s no cookie-cutter approach, as donor preferences vary. We have to be sensitive to our donors’ particular styles, then give them what they want,” says marketing and fundraising consultant Claire AxelradOpens in a new window.

9. Recognize repeat donors
“Whether your organization is new or has been around for years, you can recognize continuous yearly donors in your annual report. Give recognition to donors who have supported you (at a set level) for three years, five years, 10 years — break it down however it works for you — but with recognition, if they have to drop a nonprofit one year, hopefully it won’t be yours!” says CFRE Debbie Joyner.

10. Say thank you
“One easy element is thanking donors for every gift either with a phone call or personalized e-mail. When dealing with loyal donors, I am always sure to mention how long they have been giving and let them know how much their continued support is appreciated. Most donors haven’t thought about how long they have been giving, and I think these small gestures have deepened donor relations with a pretty small investment of my time and our long-distance bill,” says Daniel Blakemore, assistant director for individual giving at International House, New YorkOpens in a new window.

Take-away: Loyalty, retention and engagement seem to be harder to come by these days — probably because we all seem to be running the race faster and faster. True loyalty takes time, effort and commitment to yield fundraising success, but the return is happier donors with a strong commitment to your organization.