We Don’t Have a Retention Problem – Part 1

I can envision the comments now: “What do you mean ‘we have don’t have a retention problem?’ Our retention is plummeting faster than the NFL’s credibility as a useful nonprofit organization.”

Oh I hear you. Retention, particularly among second year donors has been going south for a decade.

But I don’t think it’s a retention problem.

I think it’s a demographic communication problem.

Check out this graph. It shows CY13 second year retention of donors acquired in CY12 by generation.

Retention by generation

1- Second Year Retention by Generation

Look at the retention rates of Builder’s – 49%! Talk about a throwback metric. This is the kind of retention rates we use to see back in the old days. So our current methods of fundraising, which are still relying on the B-52 era workhorse direct mail, are still very effective with Builders.

However, the younger donor we acquire the lower the retention rate.

The big question is whether this trend is a generational issue; a communication method issue; or a combination of both.

The sad fact is that we are no longer acquiring Builders in large quantities any more. And as a larger portion of our new donor classes dip into these younger generations, the lower our retention rates will become.

Now we can either blame these younger generations for not being as loyal as their parents. Or, we can adapt and communicate with them in a more relevant way to ignite their potential.

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