The Importance of Donor Loyalty

Most non-profits have established their development programs to focus on donor capacity.  For instance, most organizations have giving societies based on gift amount.  Give a $1,000 last year and you are a member of the “Chairman’s Circle.”

Few non-profits, though, put a focus on donor loyalty – or recognizing those donors who give consistently regardless of amount.

This is a mistake.  Potentially a big one.  Why?  Let’s look at some facts:

  • According to the National Committee on Planned Giving survey 97% of people who make planned gifts say they “care about the non-profit.”
  • And who is it that “cares about your organization” and ends up making planned gifts?  The consistent, annual (in many instances small gift) donor.

And we aren’t talking small potatoes here.  By 2052 it is estimated that over $40 trillion (that’s with a “t”) will be transfered inter-generationally.  Over $6 trillion of that amount will go to charity.   To put that into perspective, last year there was $300 billion given to charities in the United States.  $6 trillion is equal to that same amount being given to charities for 20 consecutive years!

When we know that consistent and even smaller annual donors make up the bulk of the planned givers, why do so many of our organizations not recognize consecutive year giving?   Open up an annual Donor Report of your favorite organization and see if a list of donors by years of consecutive giving is provided – in my experience there is about an 8 in 10 chance it won’t be! But just about every Donor Report lists donors by gift level.

And let’s take it a step further:  Why doesn’t every non-profit have a giving society which encourages consecutive year giving (regardless of gift amount)?  Why shouldn’t we acknowledge and steward the donor who has given for 25 consecutive years with the same zest extended to a current major gift donor?  Loyalty may not seem important today but $6 trillion is a lot of money.

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