If you haven’t read the 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Project study from (Association of Fundraisng Professionals, here are two shocking statistics: on average in the United States, the average investor retention rate is 39% and for first-time investors the rate drops to 22.9%. The more shocking statistics is that in Europe the investor retention rate in much higher at 80%. The reason is that most of their investors are giving on a monthly basis. Monthly giving has never really been a priority for nonprofits in the United States.
Another interesting phenomenon that European investors are more comfortable with is that their gifts flow through bank accounts. It has always been a huge elephant in the room for American investors. it seems that there are some American nonprofits who are seriously considering taking the leap to encourage their investors to give monthly. Having been a professional fund raiser for 25+ years, some of the most interesting planned gifts have been from investors who have given on a monthly basis. At one institution where I worked, a woman investor who had no real connection with the organization but lived in close proximity to the institution, gave a million dollar gift after she died.
Here are few helpful hints that might give your organization a more sustainable program and a higher percentage rate for retention:
- Include monthly giving in you fund raising/communication strategy;
- Attempt to make a persuasive case that offline giving, like through a bank, would be less costly to the investor;
- Your thank you letter should be out the door automatically on the same day the gift is received;
- These investors deserve the same communication strategy as your major and principle investors; and,
- These investors may be giving less on a monthly basis, but someone on staff should be calling them and getting to know them. There could be someone yearning for attention and guidance on how to create a planned gift.
This could be your one new exciting and sustainable program strategy that will set your organization apart and increase your investor retention rate!