Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Donor Voice vs Penelope Burk

I recently read a blog post over at thedonorvoice that tried pointing out the inaccurate assumptions regarding pace of solicitation that Penelope Burk had made in recent research. This particular post highlights for me the vast amounts of “myths” in the market on this critical topic.

If you are a practitioner who believes that cadence will play no role in retention, I encourage you to test this for all of our benefit by setting up hourly automatic solicitations for your entire donor pool. I suspect not many people will choose this path and most of us would agree for quite obvious reasons. The assertion that pace will play no role in retention is the equivalent of suggesting one could not overdose on heroin. Although sharing data that provides no insight into how to improve the retention problem I guess potentially gives organizations the opportunity to be lost but making great time.

Having spent most of my career building advance models focused on retention and increasing donor retention by over 280% I can tell you that both Penelope Burk and the folks at thedonorvoice are correct, the problem is that they are also both incorrect. If you've never produced retention it is possible to look at statistical studies regarding groups of people and arrive at what would be perceived as logical conclusions. The problem in practice is that while groups of people are predictable, individuals within that group are not.  There is just no 100%, ever.

Retention is achieved through a personal understanding of how each donor will react to designed touch
points. There is no 100% assumption that you can safely drape over any group without a certain degree of statistical error. You just have to determine if the risk of error is worth, well, the risk.

Donor retention is both a serious problem and an incredible opportunity. Our systems, models, and strategies for five decades have been designed to generate transactions not customer satisfaction. We have built a fundraising culture almost entirely on acquisition. Continued focus on transactions only will do very little to impact the retention of your most valuable assets. 

If you are interested in how to have real impact check out this read from Tom Asacker.

In the meantime the point this info graphic makes reminds me.

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