The Donor-Centered Philosophy
Of ninety-five questions posed to donors in Cygnus’ landmark study, none was more revealing than this one: “What would cause you to remain indefinitely loyal to a particular cause, while increasing the value of your contributions over time?” National statistics on donor attrition underscore the importance of this question. 90% of donors who start contributing to a particular cause stop giving by the fifth renewal request, and over 60% who make a first contribution never make a second. This disturbing and growing trend limits fundraising growth and forces fundraisers to spend a disproportionate amount of their time and budget acquiring more donors to replace those short-lived supporters.
But, donors offered this solution. 87% of Cygnus’ study respondents said they would give again the next time they were asked, 64% would make a larger gift, and 74% would continue to give indefinitely, if they received the following every time they made a gift:
Not for profits that provide these three things to all their donors – not just the most generous contributors – whenever they give, are “donor-centered.”
This basic gesture automatically transforms fundraising from transactional, which values only the narrow activity of asking for money, to relational which expresses how much you appreciate your donors and demonstrates your willingness to be accountable to them for the contributions they have made.
- prompt, meaningful acknowledgment of their gifts
- reassurance that their gifts will be directed as donors intend
- meaningful results on their gifts at work, before they are asked for another contribution