Consider two paths for growing donor participation. The first is to focus on donor retention (i.e., renewing donors from the previous year). The second is to focus on new donor acquisition and the reactivation of lapsed donors. The tables below show examples of both strategies.
- Table A shows how one organization increased its donor participation rate from 10% to 15% over a 5-year period. Its strategy focused on stewardship and resulted in a 1% increase in donor retention each year. By the final year, this organization produced 3,250 more donors than it did in the first year with the majority of this growth coming in the form of retained donors.
- Table B shows how another organization also increased its donor participation rate from 10% to 15%. Its strategy focused less on stewardship and more on creative marketing efforts and high appeal volume. As a result, its donor retention rate remained flat over the same 5-year period. By the final year, this organization also produced 3,250 more donors with the majority of this growth coming in the form of new donor donor acquisition or lapsed donor reactivation.
Both strategies can help increase your overall donor participation rate. However, the retention strategy is generally simpler and more efficient while the acquisition more expensive and far less likely to be sustainable over a long period of time. Which would you choose?
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