Sunday, April 7, 2013

How Are You Measuring Belief?

I woke up early this morning in San Diego getting ready to hit the AFP conference in a few hours. During the plane trip from Tampa to San Diego I had time to read my good friends new book The Business of Belief. It was timely for this conference because Tom's book is incredibly focused on the elements that are important for the nonprofit industry if we are to have an actual impact on donor retention. I've read so many articles recently about donor retention that simply suggest a checklist of things to do in order to keep your donors longer. I even read one place where someone suggested that you make the second ask sooner. Focusing on the transaction is precisely the reason our national retention numbers are what they are. Having our measures focused on short-term transactions requires our donors to suffer the consequences along with the negative impact to our bottom line of losing them or just not tracking our ability to keep them.

It's amazing how we have tried to boil donor retention down to a checklist of things to do to the donor.
I was reminded while reading Tom's book that each of us has our own personal narrative that we aspire to. In order to improve donor retention throw away the checklist and stop focusing on the transaction and begin to understand the personal narrative your donors are building for themselves. Each of us wish our lives to be of value and that we will leave this world a little bit better than the way we found it.

Nonprofits have the remarkable position to be a platform for our donor’s stories. Our bottom line is changed lives. My suggestion is that you rethink lists, the assumptions and realize that our purpose is to create purpose. To accomplish this requires a new set of measures and a new organizational structure. My friend at the Disney Institute who speaks eloquently on the topic of creating a powerful culture reminded me recently how critical this element is to overall fundraising success.

To capture the impact of belief and emotional momentum in our metrics requires a significant shift in how we have looked at the business of raising money. If you are interested in seeing another model stop by booth 718 @ AFP ICON and let's talk because we're holding the opportunities for the extraordinary stories our donors wish to create.

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