According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the average nonprofit donor retention rate (or, the percentage of your donors who gave last year who also will give to your institution this year), is about 45%.
Advancement leaders have lamented this “below 50%” data point for years.
In response, all kinds of analyses and solutions have been performed to understand and improve donor retention. The typical bottom lines for all of these assessments, though, center around the failure of advancement leaders or providing tips and strategies for advancement leaders to do more to enhance donor retention.
Almost no one talks about the broader context of the human condition and how it is just plain difficult to consistently be generous.
From the moment we are born, others have to teach us that sharing is good.
None of us had to be taught to be concerned about ourselves.
Perhaps the real work of donor retention is not really about a quicker follow-up to a first gift or a more personalized first-gift-anniversary note (although both of these strategies represent good and productive work for advancement folk).
Perhaps, though, the real work of advancement leaders is to teach others that sharing is good.