The latest report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project has left many fundraisers frustrated but not surprised with the findings. As a whole, the nonprofit community has been largely unable to retain donors. Over the last several years, and especially since 2008, we have seen our donor files shrink and then shrink some more. Making matters worse is the fact that new donor acquisition programs are lackluster at best. As the report points out, when 57 out of 100 active donors attrite after several gifts, we have a serious problem.

Don’t panic though; we need to take this bad news as a call to action.

How can you do this? Well, first dig into your numbers which can shed light on trends on a year over year basis. In other words, how does a particular metric match up to the same time during the prior year?  When you review your reports look at trends in various segments of your file – for instance are you doing better with retention in the $15.00 – $25.00 segment or the $250.00+ giving segment?  Digging into these kind of details will lead you to what areas are most important to focus on.  As an example, you should be more concerned with a high attrition rate in the top donor segments than the lower segments.

If you manage the attrition problem properly you may end up with a smaller donor file but raise the same or more funds. How? By retaining the upper donors more effectively.

These are the types of data you can analyze and use to make informed strategic and tactical changes regarding how you are cultivating, stewarding, and soliciting your donors.  Look for ways to increase retention in key segments while also upgrading giving in other areas at the same time.

See NonProfit Pro for more.