Donor retention and measurement is an interesting conversation for any fundraising group to have. So often we gravitate to the linear aspect of measurement because it's easy to grasp. Southwest airlines several years ago decided to measure happiness a unique but highly impactful exercise. As an industry
Another significant achilles' heel for our industry is that our metrics in general are short in nature. We measure items connected to how we are doing compared to last year, interesting and important pieces of data to understand but they do very little in helping us understand the momentum that we are creating with the people we wish to remain connected to. Many of the conversations today regarding donor retention revolve around renewing a gift. This consistent focus on the transaction of a gift is continuing to drink from the poisoned well that has actually caused the retention issues we wish to resolve.
I have spent my career studying and redesigning the process of fundraising to address this significant
Take that same logic and drop that over the raising of money. In order to raise money you actually need donors. To raise the most amount of money from those donors you need to keep them longer and have them feel that supporting your organization is adding value and quality to their life.
So what if you measured major gift officers by looking at the individuals that they manage. What is the average length of time that their donors have remained on the books. Is that length of time increasing or decreasing. That's a linear metric connected to the sustaining of a relationship. Have their gifts for this pool grown over a period of time has it remained stagnant or is it shrinking. To begin measuring performance around sustaining and deepening relationships with the people that organizations are strategically connected to will pay significantly higher dividends than the shortsighted metric of how many visits that you make this month.
If we focus on the transaction we will accomplish very little with building a motivated donor
If you want to raise money you need to have donors. If you want to have donors supporting you at the capacity with which they could give you need to have emotionally motivated committed donors. If you want to have emotionally motivated and committed donors you need to be measuring whether or not you are adding value to their life. One way to measure that value is the length of time they choose to remain connected in support of your organization. Since donors typically do not lead with their best gift retention (length of time) matters.
Our traditional belief that measuring transactions will deliver the most resources to our bottom line have