envelopeMaintaining a sufficient amount of donors is vital for a charity organization. Whether it is those who donate separate of an event or those who return year after year to your race, keeping them is a priority.

We want to gain new supporters and initiate more funds, but if we let our veteran supporters slip out of our grasp we’ll never reach our monetary goals.

So how do we keep people loyal to our specific cause and organization?

The 2008 Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) survey and research conducted by Indiana University professor, Adrian Sargeant found evidence of a few key practices that may lead to maintaining donor loyalty.

At least one part of your efforts to communicate with donors should be customized whether this is a phone call, email or similar method. Organizations that made this a priority saw lower attrition rates than those who didn’t customize.

According to Sargeant, customizing is really the key for retention. Survey respondents reported using calls, texts, emails, newsletters and incorporating more face-to-face interaction such as planning activities and asking for volunteer help as a way to customize their efforts.

Contacting donors three to eight times per year appears to be the magic number range. Charities who maintained this level of contact were able to retain more of their donors as opposed to those who made contact fewer times per year. The information I reviewed didn’t mention anything about the effects of contacting them more.

I gave this some thought considering the organizations to which I most often donate. I like to know what is going on, how funds are used and information about goals reached, but if I don’t get a letter or email that specifically has my name at the top of it I can’t say I’m swayed to stop supporting them.

I support the organizations I believe in because the cause is close to my heart and I know they are a trustworthy entity with standards in line with my own. Then again, compared to some I am certainly not considered a major donor. Everyone likes to be appreciated so perhaps those who give large sums prefer this kind of communication.

What do you think? What have your experiences been either as the charity organization or the donor? Is personalized communication and the number of times per year you give/receive it making a difference?

Here are two articles that have additional reading about the research:

Regular customised communications reduce face-to-face donor attrition at UKFundraising

Personalised communication ‘means lower drop-out rates’ at ThirdSector

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Posted on 26 August 2009

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