A Guide to Donor Retention – Bloomerang
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A Guide to Donor Retention – Bloomerang

December 31, 2019


If you’re a fundraiser or nonprofit development
professional, you’ve likely heard the term “donor retention.” It’s one of the hottest
topics of discussion in the nonprofit sector. But what is donor retention? And why is it
important? Quite simply, donor retention is a measure
of how many donors continue to donate to your organization. Nonprofits with a high donor
retention rate have long-term supporters who come back year after year. Nonprofits with
a low donor retention rate need to continually acquire new donors or larger gifts to keep
up. So why is this a big deal? Let’s say you get donations from 1,000 supporters
in year 1. If your donor retention rate is 40%, only 400 of those will make a second
donation in year 2. After 5 years, only 10 of the original 1,000 will still be supporting
your organization. Think of how much acquiring those 1,000 donors cost in time and money,
only for a small handful to be retained. Still not convinced? Let’s say your donor retention rate is 41%.
You have 5,000 donors, who each make a $200 gift. After 10 years, at that retention rate,
you would have collected $820,859 (not counting new donor acquisition). If your donor retention
rate is 51%, that same donor pool would have netted you $1,277,208. That’s right – just a small change in retention
could cost your organization thousands of dollars. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness
Project, the average donor retention rate among nonprofits is only 39%. Do you know your donor retention rate?

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