It’s the Big Fight!! Get Ringside seats.

In the battle between Recruitment v Retention…. Round One has gone to Recruitment. But now it is time to get Retention back into the game.

I’ll start with a caveat that obviously your charity needs both. However, over the last 10 to 20 years there has been a near single minded obsession with all things recruitment which, while vital to long term sustainability, is actually not the most important strategy. I’ll say that again. Recruitment is not the most important fundraising strategy. The most important job of fundraising is retention.

We all know the figures. It takes between 5 or 6 times more money to recruit than retain, yet retention rates are appalling. Why? If we are able to capture their interest enough to give, why oh why are we not keeping that interest and making them stay?

Donors are the driving force of every charity. They are the everyday people who keep us afloat, and enable us to do extraordinary things. Surely it is better to show the love to ones we have?

I’m going to say it again. Donor retention – and for this please read donor love / donor care / donor attention – is the most important function of the fundraising team.

It’s like the Sky ad a couple of years ago – the ads kept promoting all the wonderful deals now available to new sign ups – which annoyed the existing customers so much they left in their droves.

As the rates of retention are falling, the costs of recruitment are rising, and for many charities, becoming prohibitive. So why do we keep focussing on it? Here’s why. (Or at least this is what many fundraisers think is why…)

Donor Recruitment is sexy!!

Donor Retention is slog.

Donor Recruitment is dynamic, exciting, and fast moving!

Donor Retention is mundane, repetitive and laborious.

Recruitment figures are positive. The power! The glory!

Retention figures are negative. The drudgery. The shame.

But it really doesn’t have to be. I’m in the business of donor care and I think it’s sexy, dynamic, exciting, fast-moving, and hugely positive! Who doesn’t want to feel the love from donors who believe they are part of something extraordinary?

The thing to remember is this. The goal of fundraising is to make extraordinary things happen. The way to do that is to deliver long-term sustainable income. That comes from people who support you in a loyal and on-going way. Caring for them – and keeping them – is the only way to deliver that.

Raising sustainable funds is the process of nurturing and cherishing your most prized possessions – your donors.

And donor care is all about passion. Sharing the passion of your organisation with those who have a connection to your cause, and making them understand they are part of something extraordinary. I don’t think there’s anything more glorious than that.

So have a think about how much time, energy and resources you are putting into Retention v Recruitment and make sure you get the balance right. The future of sustainable fundraising depends on Retention winning the next round.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.