There are always too many things that a fundraiser needs to do, and it’s understandable that some things get set aside for another day. But there are two areas where procrastination can kill a fundraising program. What are they?
First, ignoring donor attrition.
Attrition is inevitable; donors die, move away, experience changing financial circumstances, lose interest, or stop giving for another reason. Left unchecked, attrition will destroy an organization at worst, make it stagnate at best. You will grow your work and come closer to fulfilling your mission when you have more money to invest in program, but an ever-decreasing pool of donors makes it difficult to stay even, let alone gain ground.
It is critical that you know what your attrition rate is (how many people who gave in 2016 didn’t give in 2017) and your rate of acquiring new donors. Assuming you align with industry averages, at least half of your first-time donors will not give again, so you need to acquire twice as many first-time donors as you are losing through attrition simply to stay even. (However, since new donors often don’t give at the same levels as donors who have been giving for multiple years, even this may not ensure you remain level.)
It is also imperative that you invest in donor acquisition. Some new donors will come on board without your prompting, but it is unlikely this will be enough to offset losses – and it’s a risky way to build a file since it’s outside your control. Donor acquisition is expensive and subject to failure – but doing nothing is more expensive since it could cost your organization its future, and simply hoping your existing donors keep giving at higher levels is too big a risk to take.
Secondly, not communicating impact.
According to the 2017 study, U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth, all generations place priority on knowing how contributions will be used and seeing the impact of contributions now, but it is even more important for Millennials and Gen X. Furthermore, the 2016 study found that 94.3% of high net worth individuals give where they believe they will make a difference.
This makes it clear that investing in gathering stories, photos, videos, testimonials, etc., is not a luxury to do someday – it’s a necessity to do now.
This year, don’t let procrastinations rob your organization of a growing donor file or the proof of impact that can result in more donations.