Finder/keeper beats loser/weeper, every time.

It’s been six month since I last wrote a check to a ministry organization that my husband and I had supported faithfully for more than a decade. Our gifts weren’t huge, but they were regular and over time added up to some real money. We gave monthly, like clockwork. 146 gifts in all – I went back and counted.

people_search_4255Yet never once in all those years did anyone from the organization contact us. No phone call to find out who we are. No request for a visit. Not even a hand scrawled “thank you” at the bottom of the stock receipt letter. Oh sure, we received (poorly designed) invitations to the annual fundraising banquet, but nary a word that we were missed when we didn’t show.


Truth be told, Randy and I didn’t have all that deep an attachment to the organization. Not that the ministry team did anything to win our hearts. Ten plus years without so much as a “howdy do” tells me the organization doesn’t think much of us, either.

In fact, I doubt our exit from the building has been or ever will be noticed. But then how could it be when our presence wasn’t acknowledged while we were there, month after month, year after year?

It’s my hunch that the development team is so focused on acquiring new donors – to bringing folks in the front door – that they’ve not noticed who’s slipped out the back. It’s not just that they’ve failed as finders/keepers. Worse, they’ve fallen short as losers/weepers. And that, for sometime-but-not-this-year donors like my husband and me, adds insult to apathy.

If you have an inkling your organization is in same sorry boat as the offending organization at the heart of this post, I encourage you to click over to Show the Love: Thoughtful Engagement to Retain Donors. This ebook from npEngage is free for the downloading and with advice from 14 of the top minds in fundraising, it’s more than worth the effort.

Be a finder/keeper and help change the story line on donor attrition within America’s nonprofit community. You can’t hold everyone who’s ever given to your organization. But generous matters too much to let even one donor slip out the back door unnoticed.

For more on the topic of donor retention, see:

When building a donor base, watch the coming in and going out

Turning fundraising losses into gains with the help of old friends

Forget the stuff, give ’em information


What's your take on this topic?

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