Industry Insights: You Need to Retain Your Donors to Succeed

2020 has been quite the year, and if COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it is that sustainability must be a primary focus for an organization that wants to survive and thrive.

Sustainability efforts do not need to be grandiose or complicated. If your organization is on the brink of collapse, don’t focus on Hail Mary passes – focus on what has worked in the past. One of the most impactful things you can do to promote sustainability in your organization is to implement measures to retain your existing donors.

It is much less expensive to keep a donor than it is to acquire a new one, and you can find the easiest, most-immediate impact by investing in retaining donors, rather than searching for new ones.

One of the simplest strategies to engage your donors is to say thank you – early and often. You need a plan to strategically engage your donors. Focusing on donor retention doesn’t just make it happen, so you need to plan strategically to ensure these details do not slip through the cracks and alienate your audience. It will pay off! In fact, retained donors tend to give more and are your key prospects for a major gifts\capital campaign.

Donor retention enables your organization to plan for the future.

Your donor retention rate and the average gift within your retained donors allows you to project income. (Click here to calculate your donor retention rate for free.) Track your donor retention rate every month and track it with rigor. Doing so enables your organization to project income based on the donors who have historically stayed with you and their average gift.

A consistent focus on retaining donors enables your organization to plan for the future, connect with an already-engaged audience, and promote sustainability through whatever 2021 may bring our way.

To learn more about donor retention, we recommend this article by Aly Sterling. 

Feasibility Studies: Worth It or A Waste?

You have likely considered kicking off a major gifts or capital campaign with a feasibility study to examine the factors that could contribute to your campaign’s success or failure, such as leadership, target audience, brand impact, and costs. Some nonprofit leaders do not believe in the value of feasibility studies. James LaRose, founder of the National Development Institute, claims, “the studies… are outmoded and a colossal waste of money.”

In contrast, however, we at The Killoe Group consider feasibility studies to be capital campaigns’ best friends – and incredibly valuable investments.

While LaRose asserts feasibility studies are not worth the time, effort, and money required, these studies have a number of benefits. For example, a feasibility study enables you and your team to analyze your target audience and cultivate a deeper understanding of donor demographics. This information will enable you to more accurately and successfully target your supporters. Other benefits include identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses and creating buzz about your campaign.

Download Feasibility Studies: A Capital Campaign’s Best Friend to learn more about feasibility studies and how they can benefit your organization’s development efforts.

Industry Insights: Data-Driven Decisions

It’s no secret that we at The Killoe Group are big fans of data. We believe data is important to drive sound decision-making and avoid the “see-what-sticks” approach on which many organizations rely heavily. We utilize data when helping clients with their fundraising strategies; however, organizations can extrapolate the concept to support innovation and new ideas with evidence, ultimately leading to a higher success rate.

Despite the plentiful benefits of data-drive decision making, many organizations still struggle with incorporating data and analysis into day-to-day decision-making.

According to David Waller, the author of the Harvard Business Review article linked below, data-driven decisions must become a component of organizational culture for their use to become commonplace across the organization.

Waller provides ten tips to guide organizations in developing a data-driven culture, many of which align with the process we use when working with clients on data-driven fundraising and donor retention. Our top three tips from the list: choose metrics wisely, train your teams, and explain your choices.

Choose Metrics Wisely

When making the connection between data and decision-making, you should be sure the metrics align with the challenge at-hand and can support your teams in making actionable decisions.

Train Your Teams

To successfully roll out data-drive decision-making across your organization, provide your teams with background information that will help them understand why you’re implementing this new step, what it means for their specific workplace functions, and how it will enhance their performance. Additionally, provide technical training to help employees identify how data findings can improve decision making.

Explain Your Choices

As your teams begin relying on data more frequently to drive decision-making, practice having all members explain what data caused them to make the decision they did. These types of discussions not only create accountability but encourage collaborative analysis of your organization’s data.

To learn more about data-drive decisions and explore how you can transform your organizational culture, we recommend David Waller’s article, “10 Steps to Creating a Data-Driven Culture.”