Monday, November 26, 2012

Back To The Future

I have been reading a lot lately about the importance of retention. Some one recently posted a blog about some incredible information coming from a person with the title "scientist" who is a vendor to the nonprofit sector. The scientist stressed how critical it is not to focus all your attention on acquisition of donors. A compelling case for today's market as it was equally compelling in 1975. The math is simple, we renew each year more than we acquire. Traditional fundraising of course not disaster relief efforts.

Wow Institute
There is a bunch of noise in the market about tools that will rescue us from our own ineptness and completely fix the very real retention issue demonstrated by the recent AFP Effective Fundraising Study. It reminds me of the hammer salesperson who sees the solution to every problem as another hammer. Great customer service is the by product of a mind set. It can not be manufactured with a tool. Putting the world's best scalpel in my hand will not make me a great surgeon. Today there are people talking about retention and providing advice that have never executed strategy that resulted in increased donor retention. Sort of Bernie Madoffs of philanthropy.

If you seriously want to wrap your head around impacting retention please know that it has nothing to do with tools.  It is driven by creating a culture of service and a good old fashion understanding of  exactly who the customer is you can't live without, and then making sure you keep them.  In 2001 I took my advancement team to Disney to learn about customer service because Disney had the highest repeat customer metrics of any industry. We could not learn about retention from the standard fundraising conferences available. In addition we could not embrace the current "best practice" metrics because these metrics have actually produced the dismal results in the recent AFP survey.

The above gaps led a group of us to create the wow institute over a decade ago, it was designed to put the donor at the center of the conversation.  Today The New Science Of Philanthropy delivers a set of metrics never before discussed in best practice circles but proves, in a linear manner,  there is a better set of questions that exists to build a sustainable fundraising initiative. It would be great to hear from any of the old Wow folks who experienced a week in the mountains of New Hampshire to let us know what their perspective on donor retention is now that their wow experience was a decade ago!

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