In the previous post, we talked about finding out where the danger zone is for new donors. Now let’s turn our attention to multi-year donors – and where their danger zone is.

If you’re serious about growing your organization by increasing supporters and income, you’re no doubt committed to strengthening the relationship your multi-year donors have with your organization. However, attrition is one of those things that just happens – but not always. There are things we can do – and are doing – to combat attrition.

One often overlooked factor of attrition is the danger zone for multi-year donors. This isn’t the same for every organization – or even for every donor file. But chances are there are one or two points in your relationship continuum with these repeat supporters where you’re most likely to lose them than at other points.

The challenge is to use your data to find out where this point (or points) is. Is it after 18 months? After three years? Obviously, not everyone will go into the danger zone at the same point, but there are likely places that are more dangerous than others when it comes to the volume of donor attrition.

Once you have determined the one or two most dangerous points, you need to plan what you are going to do before a donor gets to that point. For example, if your danger point is at 18 months, what about sending an email or placing a call at 12 months, thanking them for being a partner for the last year? Then at 17 months, send a short report of good news that their support made possible.

Another option is to have a “club” that is a way to recognize donors for their longevity. This doesn’t require a separate mail track or expensive gifts. Simply send a certificate, welcoming them to the XYZ Club “that honors extraordinary partners who have supported our mission for the last three years” (or whatever your danger zone is).

When a donor lapses, we tend to “pull out the stops” to bring them back into the active donor files – where, if nothing changes, they will potentially lapse again. Instead, let’s keep them from lapsing by showing extra appreciation and turn the danger zone into the Opportunity Zone – the place where we strategically invest in deeper relationships.