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Treat Your Donors Well (Because That’s How You’ll Raise More Money)

What are great fundraisers doing in 2018 to rise above the crowd in today’s complex and crowded marketplace? They’re making donor retention a priority. Pareto Fundraising CEO, Dearne Cameron, talks about how Pareto can help you build the relationships that matter.

Many years ago I worked for a charity that made the wise decision to invest in relationship fundraising and build a donor journey that would best help us meet the needs of our donors – rather than our organisational needs.

It was in the early years following the release of Ken Burnett’s ground-breaking book ‘Relationship Fundraising’ – its content had set the fundraising world on its ear.

At the time, Ken’s book drilled into the core of our value system to remind us that fundraising is more art than science. It’s not about a list of donors with unique IDs on a spreadsheet. It’s about people giving to people … the hope of a shared dream … the success of a worthy cause.

Armed with this book as our guide, we gathered all our key players and embarked on a donor journey mapping exercise. After spending several days together, we had created a beautiful map full of interesting insights about our donors and the key touchpoints they had with us.

It was all very impressive, but soon became overwhelming. Our journey was quite high level so it was difficult to actually define a tangible action plan. Just as it was a challenge to identify how we would keep track of the improvements and priorities.

The journey map went from sticky notes on the wall, to a spreadsheet and then eventually, into a database. None of these however, was ideal for creating a living, breathing donor experience that would constantly evolve.

Disappointingly, our donor journey map ended up collecting dust and it never benefited the donors it was meant to benefit. Back in those days, our concept to invest in relationship fundraising for better lifetime value was correct – but the reality of implementing it was far harder that we thought.

Where we stand today

In the 26 years since Ken’s book was published, research now proves that the most lucrative fundraising strategy for any charity is donor retention.

While acquisition will always be important, today’s smart fundraiser is armed with data that shows the impact of retention versus acquisition:

  • Finding new donors is difficult and expensive – 6 to 7 times more than to retain an existing donor.
  • Loyal donors, on average, are worth up to 10 times as much as a new donor.
  • a 10% increase in donor retention can increase lifetime value of the donor data base by up to 200%.
  • Loyal donors are the best prospects for bequests.

Yet, despite the research – and more coming – about relationship building to nurture donor loyalty, Pareto Benchmarking 2018 shows that for many charities, for every 100 donors that they gain, well over half are lost through attrition after the first gift.

Losing donors at such an astonishing rate is unsustainable. Can you imagine how unsuccessful some of our biggest commercial companies, or even the local bakery down the street would be with just a 25-30% customer retention rate?

It’s why building donor loyalty is one of the biggest, if not the single biggest, challenge facing fundraisers today.

So, what’s going wrong?

For many fundraisers, the ability to develop a donor-based approach to fundraising continues to stall and ultimately fail.

Why? Because just as it was for my charity 20+ years ago, the theories, tools and frameworks that need to be built to undertake the work is far more difficult than thought.

And two decades on, the relationship dimension of our work has become far more complex as multi-channel communication gives us many more bases of support.

Add to that the short-term approach of many charities that demand an immediate return on investment. How can relationship fundraising be successful when there is often little support and no budget to invest the time, people and resources necessary to build a long-term donor retention journey?

How do we change the donor experience for increased retention?

At Pareto, we’re dedicated to advancing innovation within the not-for-profit sector. We want to help all charities raise more money for their mission.

In 2018, we’re proud to support the sector with two ‘new to the Australian market’ products that will help fundraisers to effectively build donor retention programs that will boost lifetime value of donors.

Both products are based on internationally recognised software platforms that have been delivering outstanding results for both profit and non-profit organisations globally.

They also offer robust and consistent benchmarks and metrics by which to measure the success of a relationship fundraising model – something that has been largely missing to date in the Australian charitable sector.

Already, a small number of charity partners have come on board. They are the first charities in Australia to use these new products that will greatly benefit their donors and beneficiaries and build the skills and expertise of their fundraising teams.

Journey mapping can increase donor commitment

Touchpoint Dashboard is the world’s leading journey management toolkit. For the first time in the Australian charitable sector, you’ll be able to professionalise donor journey mapping in a way that has never been seen before.

Through a system of dashboards controlled from one command centre within your office, you’ll be able to see where your charity is failing to meet donor expectations, how that failure is affecting the bottom line, and what activities are costing you the most in terms of loyalty, retention and lifetime value of your donors.

Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be able to strategically plan, implement and optimise your donor journey to build better lifetime value. And you can share and collaborate easily and effectively with the different teams in your organisation.

Touchpoint Dashboard is a flexible and powerful donor management platform. It’s easy to set up, its tools and methods are easy to understand so that users can focus on the benefits of journey management and not fall short of their execution goals.

And, to help you become a journey management professional, you’ll have training, education and ongoing support from one of Australia’s first Journey Mapping Academy certified Pareto team members.

See your charity through the eyes of your donor

Charities spend a large amount of time carefully constructing the journey through which they want their donors to go. But how does it feel from a donor’s point of view?

The Donor Stewardship Tracker is an internationally recognised mystery shopping platform which helps charities find out how their supporters feel.

It analyses the stages from enquiry through to donation across all channels and then helps charities find out how their communications work in practice over months and even years.

It can also provide benchmarking against other charities at the end of each 12-month cycle.

The Donor Stewardship Tracker provides an opportunity to assess your stewardship program from an objective and detailed perspective. It provides information to help you improve on a micro and macro scale.

Over time, you will also be able to track the impact of your changes which may have improved your donor care, retention and supporter satisfaction.

It’s one of the best ways to help you transform your levels of donor satisfaction and retention.

A donor retention strategy is no small commitment for any charity. It takes sustained focus and effort. But don’t let another year … another month … another day get away from you without committing to make the change that will help you boost donor loyalty and retention.

To find out more, call Clarke Vincent at Pareto Fundraising on +61 415 668 667 or email:

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