Posted , by Lauren B. Fenn, campaign consultant. Topic: Donor Retention, National Research Collaborative.

“Are higher retention rates associated with higher totals in charitable giving?” This is the question that the Nonprofit Research Collaborative sought to answer in their most recent survey focused on donor retention rates. More than 770 organizations across every subsector participated in the study.
Interestingly, the results are almost exactly the same as the NCR’s 2011 findings–charitable receipts rose in 2012 at 46 percent of the organizations surveyed–results that are also consistent with general economic trends. Also remaining generally the same, smaller organizations (those with operating budgets less than $1 million) reported increases in charitable receipts less often than larger organizations. This divide is often due to the fact that smaller organizations generally have a smaller development staff.
Higher charitable gift receipts were associated with retention efforts that utilize any one of the three “best practice” donor retention communications: donor recognition, reporting results, and multiple channels for sharing information. Important for us to all keep in mind are the associations between a focus on retention and increased charitable revenue; the number of retention efforts used and the retention rate obtained; and specific retention efforts in stewardship and communications and increased charitable receipts.
Of survey participants, only 47 percent monitor their retention rates. The correlation between retention rates and charitable giving becomes obvious throughout the study–in short, you are what you measure. Organizations need to be diligent in reviewing their retention rates quarterly and incorporating some of the “best practices” to boost their numbers. This important step should be included in your annual Development Plan.
So does your organization monitor its retention rates? What do you do to successfully retain your donors? To learn more about the specific tactics used to retain donors, or how to tailor your retention efforts to donor type, click here to review the full study.

About the Survey
The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys two times a year. Each NRC member has, at a minimum, a decade of direct experience collecting information from nonprofits concerning charitable receipts, fundraising practices, and/or grant making activities. NRC partners are the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, Campbell Rinker, Giving USA Foundation, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.

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