Loyalty? What Loyalty? What Consumer Stats Tell Fundraisers

Donor loyalty. Sometimes it seems as if it has gone the way of the dinosaurs. We talk about it, write about it, hold meetings about it and strategize for it, but it’s still missing from many nonprofit supporter lists. Donors are acquired and then they attrite. It’s just the reality we live with.

On the other hand, we know the value of a retained donor, not only in terms of immediate cash but also the increased likelihood of a long-term donor upgrading or leaving an estate gift. So this summer, determine to give some serious thought to how you can increase donor loyalty. Begin with theseconsumer loyalty statistics that Access Development has compiled—and apply them to your fundraising program.

1. Eighty-one percent of consumers admit that it is frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them.

Summer is the perfect time to put yourself in the place of your donor and test-drive your online donation system—or better yet, have someone who is new to your website do that and give you immediate feedback as he or she goes through the process. (After all, what are friends for?!) The same is true with mail donations—how easy is it to mail a check to you? (Some websites make it next to impossible to find a physical address, and that does not make it easy to do business with them!) Before we know it, year-end will be here—the biggest season for fundraising for a large percentage of nonprofits. Make sure you are making it easy for your donors—first-time and loyal (so far)—to “do business” with you.

2. Fifteen percent of shoppers would give a brand or product a second chance after a poor experience.

That means 85 percent will not give you a second chance if they have a poor experience. No, giving to charity is not like a shirt that falls apart in the washer or popcorn that fails to pop—but this statistic shows that people do not have a high tolerance for product failure. So a nonprofit organization—to which a person entrusts a certain amount of disposable income—needs to assume that its “product failure” will not be tolerated, either. That means timely receipts that say “thank you” and focus on the donor (not the organization), and reports that show what the donor has made possible (not just what you can do if he or she sends in another gift). What’s the experience that donors feel, not just the one you have strategized on paper?

3. Only 15 percent of consumers don’t think good service would change their behavior in any way.

So, another 85 percent stat—more than four in five people would change their behavior (positively, I assume) in response to good service. That alone should lead fundraisers to ask, “What can we do to wow our donors?” “Wowing” isn’t one-size-fits-all, but think about the best customer service experiences you’ve recently had. How can you replicate that “magic” for a donor following receipt of a donation?

4. Fifty-five percent of consumers said they are not likely to continue being a customer of a company that ignores their feedback.

What is your process for responding to donors who call, write, email, comment on social media or otherwise engage with you? Again, engage some “secret shoppers” to write in asking for information or call to request a newsletter. Is the request handled quickly (and does the person feel like he or she was treated well) or like a nuisance? Can you afford to ignore feedback knowing that you may lose half of the donors who take the time to provide it?

5. Building loyalty with 5 percent more customers would lead to an increased average profit per customer of between 25 percent and 100 percent.

Hmm what would happen if we retained 5 percent more donors in 2016 than we did in 2015? What could that potentially mean for total income? And if we consistently retained 5 percent more donors each year, could we invest less in donor acquisition—or better yet, more mission-fulfilling work with the extra income?

This old dog knows that it takes more than wishing to increase donor retention and build loyal donors. But these stats from Access Development should challenge each of us to ask “how?” How can we improve the experience of “doing business” with us? How can we improve our response to donor feedback? How can we retain 5 percent more donors in 2016 than we did in 2015?

While you’re enjoying the summer months, take one of those questions along with you and really think about it. Throw out all your assumptions about the things you “can’t” do. If anything were possible, what would you do? Now, how close can you get to that point of perfection?

Summer is for dreaming—and loyal donors are the things great dreams are made of.

Originally published in NonProfit Pro.

Author: PJBarden

With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans more than 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations. She specializes in writing fundraising copy, grant proposals, P.R. materials, instructional articles and blog entries, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy for her clients. Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE); an instructor for UCLA Extension School’s Fundraising Certification Program and the University of La Verne, College of Business and Public Management; a frequent webinar speaker; and author of two online courses for UCLA Extension. Pamela earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015; her doctoral project (dissertation) was entitled “Nonprofit Organizations’ Awareness of and Preparation for Legislation, Regulation, and Increasing Scrutiny.” She is a past winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from DMA; recipient of a Distinguished Instructors Award from UCLA Extension; a weekly columnist for NonprofitPRO (formerly Fundraising Success); and a monthly contributor to Blackbaud’s blog, npEngage.

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