blue rule

Published January 13, 2019

Weekly Idea - Attrition is Your Enemy


If you don’t monitor carefully your attrition of donors or members— you neglect, at your own peril, the single most important element in your fundraising office.

At one of my Seminars, I asked how many knew what their attrition was. No one raised a hand.

Then I said, “Okay, someone give me a guesstimate.” One hand shot up. He said he thought it would be twenty-something.

I was doubtful. This is an organization that gets over 100,000 gifts a year. That suggests a much higher attrition. He came back the next day. “I asked my office to do some checking. It turns out our attrition is in the seventies.”

They’re in trouble. They need to keep feeding the pipeline just to stay even.

Read what we hear from Allegiant Direct. They’re an outstanding outfit that helps you dramatically decrease your attrition.

“Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed.

In a recent AFP presentation, only 1 of 35 nonprofits knew their donor attrition rate! 34 nonprofit organizations were unaware that the base of their giving pyramid may be drastically shrinking.

It is not uncommon for us to see nonprofits with donor attrition ranging from 60-70%”

I see it more often between 40-50%. It is especially fragile for first-time donors. You better have a strategy of how to hold on to them.

But you can’t do anything about it unless you know the figure. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Take a look at this Attrition Chart. It shows what happens per 1000 donors over a five year period for attrition rates of 20% (you have little to worry about if you’re that low), 40%, and 60%.

At 60%, if you don’t keep feeding the hungry pipeline, after five years, you go to 10 donors. Ouch!

It costs 4½ times as much in staff, time, and resources to secure a new donor as it does to keep one who has already shown he loves you. Shower them with thanks.

Practice my BOY rule: Because Of You. Let your donors know you couldn’t do it without them. (How many donors have you said that to lately!)