Attrition can be a costly issue for nonprofits but it doesn’t have to be, says Ilja De Coster, fundraising & data strategist at The DonorVoice, and founder & vice-president of Fundraisers Belgium. This month, he talks us through three crucial data points every fundraiser should be taking note of – and acting on – to improve retention.
If you work in acquisition, especially face-to-face, you’re aware of the high number of people who cancel their gifts shortly after signing up. This poses a costly problem for charities and agencies. However, there is a fix. By incorporating three crucial data points into our practices and acting upon the insights they deliver, we can significantly enhance retention rates.
The first data point is the supporter’s connection to our cause: their identity. The second is the strength of their relationship with us: their commitment. Lastly, we need to consider their satisfaction: addressing their basic psychological needs.
Asking the right questions
To gather this information, we simply need to ask the right questions during face-to-face conversations. In our normal conversations, we can measure commitment and enquire about their personal connection to our cause or their experiences related to it. Standardizing these questions and recording responses into the recruitment data is essential for being able to really do something with it.
In terms of supporter satisfaction, by measuring autonomy, relatedness, and competence we gain insight into their feelings about their interaction with us. We can email supporters shortly after sign-up, similar to customer service follow-ups, to gauge satisfaction and provide tailored responses. Obviously, a donor feeling good about the interaction with the recruiter needs a different follow up to one who doesn’t.
Revolutionizing your approach
Armed with this information, we can revolutionize our approach. Quality becomes the focus of our arrangements with agencies. We can train and incentivize fundraisers based on meaningful metrics. Understanding supporters on a deeper level enables us to personalize their journey and avoid giving “newly” signed up supporters all the same welcome and follow up. Because, as fundraisers can tell you – they are not all new in the same way to your charity or cause. Some may have done volunteering in the past; others might have already given. Some have a really good understanding about the cause; others less so. We cannot handle all of these in the same one-size-fits all welcome journey.
By using these metrics, we move away from a world where quantity is the sole measure of success. Real-time dashboards help us track the quality of supporters brought in by fundraisers. We can identify what attracts satisfied and dissatisfied supporters and engages high or low-commitment individuals. Targeted interventions and adjustments can be made. By better understanding the possible strengths and weakness of individual fundraisers, we can also move to a more tailored training program for them.
Furthermore, combining more relevant data, data analysts can build predictive models that allow us to identify supporters likely to leave soon after sign-up. Early intervention calls, prioritized on the likelihood of them leaving, can be highly effective in improving retention rates. This as a part of more personalised donor journeys.
As a sector, we have wasted decades due to poor retention rates. Now, with the availability of predictive data, we can make genuine progress for the causes we care deeply about.
About Ilja De Coster
Ilja De Coster is fundraising and data strategist at international fundraising consultancy The DonorVoice. He is also the founder and vice-president of the Belgian fundraising association, Fundraisers Belgium, and was the first person in Benelux to gain the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s (UK) European Certificate in Fundraising.
Picture by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels
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