Sunday, December 2, 2012

Could The AFP Study Suggest The Failure Of "Best Practices"?

It seems like every week I read the phrase somewhere in the volume of nonprofit writing I connect with about “best practices” It is a peculiar piece of lingo for our sector of the economy.  If you have read the recent AFP fundraisingeffectiveness report you clearly see that it might be hard to find any best practices among the organizations they studied to create this report.

If nonprofits are losing donors at the rate suggested in the report then exactly where is best practice? This is not a new question for me.In 2001 I purchased the domain For my team, at the time, this site and the images posted became a symbol of what our advancement effort was going to be all about. We were extremely focused on retaining the donors that were generating 90% of our yearly revenue. While our peers focused on participation and other short-term measures we focused on customizing the donor experience and extending the lifetime value of our key supporters.

Our quest for understanding customer service took us to the Disney Institute to experience what real donor management should look like. We ignored, what was then considered, all the “best practice” we could because those conversations were not at all about the donor.  Donor centered metrics are difficult to find.Run through your head the current measures you have in place in your shop. How many are tied directly to donor satisfaction or for that matter what is yourcurrent donor happiness index?  A recent book on measuring nonprofits does not include a single metric tied to donor longevity or their emotional propensity for continued support.
What is your donor (customer) retention?

The AFP study is a significant wake up call for ourindustry.  One of the many Peter Drucker quotes I appreciate: “Every business model reaches a point of diminishing returns”.  It appears, from this study, we have arrived.  

Make 2013 the very best for your very best customers or donors!!!

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