What you’re giving up by not asking #volunteers for financial support

Many nonprofits fail to fully integrate volunteers into their organization. They silo the volunteer names in a spreadsheet outside the organization’s donor database and suppress them from any and all fundraising efforts. Sometimes this is because they just can’t get their disparate systems to talk to one another.

Other times, this happens because someone in the organization doesn’t believe volunteers want to be solicited. And even other times, it’s because volunteers don’t convert to cash donors in high volume, and therefore don’t look as valuable as donors that are acquired with an initial cash contribution.

However, in an analysis of three different nonprofit donor files recently, I saw that supporters who were both volunteers and cash donors were anywhere from 50% – 150% more valuable than those who were only cash donors.

Measure what really matters in #fundraising

measurement

It’s always surprising to me when I see a nonprofit’s request for proposal (RFP), or talk to a development officer and the focus of their inquiry is on “increasing average gift”, or “doubling the response rate in direct mail.”

These are fine goals for any organization to have, but by themselves, they do little good for any organization. Here’s why…

If an organization has 1,000 donors, they could simply focus only on the top 50 donors and thereby increase their average gift. However, disregarding the remaining 950 donors would significantly reduce the total revenue the organization raises annually.

Similarly, if an organization’s goal is to double response rate, they could easily change their ask strategy and only request that each donor give $5 in support of their cause (in fact, I’ve seen this happen — and the result isn’t pretty!). This could dramatically increase response rate, but also similarly decrease their overall revenue by downgrading donors who had been giving gifts of $100, $500, or even $1,000+.

It’s easy to focus on these things though. They’re the quickest to impact, and often the easiest to measure. But if you want to build and grow a successful fundraising program, focus on these key metrics instead:

  • Annual value per donor
  • Income coverage (the amount of income generated over and above the amount lost to donor attrition)
  • Donor retention by segment (focus on retaining the highest value donors – sometimes it’s OK not to retain the lowest value donors)
  • Donor upgrade and downgrade percentage
  • Long-term value

 

 

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guest Post from Roy C. Jones, CFRE:

The biggest mistake fundraisers make

Today’s guest post on the biggest mistake fundraisers make is from my great friend (and co-author of Rainmaking: The Fundraiser’s Guide To Landing Big Gifts), Roy C. Jones, CFRE. “For clinking money, you can shake the can. For folding money, you should go ask for it. ” — Harold Seymour, legendary fundraiser Without a doubt, failing […]

The danger of speaking poorly of donors in call reports

Nonprofit Quarterly
09/14/2015

The Heritage Foundation recently learned what is likely to be an unfortunately painful lesson about donor engagement. And we should all take a minute to learn from their mistakes.

As you’ll see in the article, a set of major donor call reports from Heritage were posted to the web. Some of the notes made reference to donors as being “odd”, etc.  I can imagine that the senior team at Heritage is scrambling right now to rebuild trust with some of their most important donors.

The key learning here is, if you wouldn’t be comfortable saying something directly to your donor, don’t write it in your call reports. It’s just that simple.

 

Make it a great week!
Andrew

Guest Post: Two of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make

As I continue with the second installment in this series on the biggest mistakes nonprofits make, I’ve asked veteran nonprofit executive and fundraising consultant, Jim Shapiro, to share his thoughts on two of the biggest mistakes we in the sector make. Here’s what Jim had to say… (1) Most organizations make their fundraising too complex, […]