Friday, June 19, 2009

Busting attrition: eight simple steps

We’ve just finished some work with a large international organization, comparing key fundraising measures across 12 of their countries fundraising programs.

Yesterday during the presentation the subject of attrition cropped up several times, particulary around Year 1 attrition.

I reckon there are some absolute imperatives when it comes to keeping people on board in the first year and in particular the first three months. These tips are independant of which channel they were recruited by, what time of gift they gave (cash v monthly) etc.

Eight things to not only remember, but live and breathe to help you combat attrition:

1. Don’t accept stupidly long/sloppy response times when saying ‘thank you’. It cannot take 4 weeks to thank.

2. Don’t rollout with the same thank you letter or piece that you’ve been sending since 1983.

3. Don’t bung in an annual report (or like piece) to a welcome package, purely because you have twelve boxes left in the storeroom. Most annual reports are garbage (I say “most”, there are some great ones).

4. Do make sure you get the donor’s details right at point of recruitment. In our Canadian mystery shopping studies last year 47% of monthly gifts were not able to be set up, most because we never received a response to our letter/email but some because the details captured by the charity were wrong.

5. Do test phoning new donors to say thank you and tell them how they are going to make a difference. We’ve had clients test this and prove (statistically) that this increases the value of someone’s giving.

6. Do promise to feedback when you thank, and then follow through on that promise regularly.

7. Do where possible use imagery and dollar handles ('your $10 a month is going to pay for two malaria nets for someone live in Zambia') to reinforce the reasons for support.

8. Do use the right mechanisms to talk to people. My 80 year old grandmother may not be able or want to open a video message you’ve sent her, but my 19 year old brother will.

Make sure you tick these boxes regardless of the way you recruit and the types of donors and gifts you acquire. There are other things to factor into the mix to best look after those who have come on board, but this is a solid place to start.


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