Top 9 donor loyalty tweets!

Published by Reinier Spruit on

First of all I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to the inaugural bloggers who’ve opened this crowdblog with some great blog posts!  We’ve seen 6 blog posts so far and I enjoyed every bit of them! Thank you Rebecca, Victor, Mitch, Margot, Julie and Lars!

Obviously there are a trillion fundraising topics to choose from, but today I’ve chosen one I consider the most important: donor loyalty.

When I started to use Twitter last year I made a few rules for myself. One of them being that I didn’t want to tweet about personal stuff, so I decided to tweet only about fundraising. To boost my followers I thought I’d summarize the best Tiny book in the series: Essentials of Donor Loyalty from professor Adrian Sargeant.

And I got a lot of new followers. So the tweets, which were quotes from the book, had to be interesting. In the end I tweeted the tiniest summary of the book ever done… in 71 tweets. This little book is an easy and quick read and it will give you the best return on your investment ever. To be honest, it’s a must read for everyone involved with fundraising! (Buy the book!) I wanted to do a top 5, but my heart broke with every tweet I had to delete, because each contains a valuable lesson. So here is my top 9 donor loyalty tweets!

According to Sargeant “building donor loyalty is the single biggest challenge facing the sector today”. “By failing to address the issue of attrition we waste potentially enormous sums of money”. Each of the points made by Sargeant has been substantiated through 20 years of prior research. Even more interesting: “almost all loyalty suggestions offered could be implemented at almost zero incremental cost”! He says “there is no longer any reason to accept the appallingly high levels of attrition in our sector”…

1. Typically a 10% improvement in the level of loyalty increases the LTV of your database by 50%.
This first tweet is basically what it’s all about. If you can improve your loyalty only a small bit, the long term effect is much and much greater. Sargeant explains: “This happens because the effect compounds over time. If you have 10 per cent more donors still giving at the end of the current year you have 10 per cent more people giving to the organization through year two. In the second year you’ll lose 10 per cent fewer of these and lose fewer of the balance in each subsequent year. Over time the effect mounts up.”

2. Charities need to think about remunerating their fundraisers for the loyalty improvements they deliver.
Long term performance based remuneration is perhaps the solution. What if we would increase salaries from fundraisers with 10% if they improved donor loyalty with 10%? That sounds like something you might want to invest in…

3. Donors have little way to assess your charity’s work; they use the service you provide to them as a surrogate.
This one is among my personal favorites. Think about it. A large part of your donors often have no clue what you’re really doing, how you’re doing it and what challenges you need to overcome to reach your goals. So, there is no way the majority of donors can truly assess the great things your nonprofit is doing. Apart from trying to explain your work much better to these great people, it makes sense to at least provide them the best service, which they fully understand. Donors will use the service that you provide to them as a surrogate to assess your campaign work. It might sound strange that they will form an opinion on the valuable humanitarian life-saving work you do based on how you answer the phone, or how swift you send out your thank you letters, or whether you give supporters genuine personal attention when you communicate with them, but apparently it works like this, so you better have an impeccable donor service.

4. Contact with donors about satisfaction is key in fostering retention and offends no one.
When was the last time you asked your donors if they are satisfied? Most of us are sending one-way communication. There is no dialogue with our supporters. It’s mostly a monologue from your side, while is makes sense to communicate in a relationship.

5. Know why people terminate their support so recurring themes can be tackled.
Your database is capturing all available data, including cancellation reasons. It’s a good way to see trends or procedural errors of your newest campaign, but also very necessary for future segmentations in your reactivation campaign. By the way, currently we all try to “save” our supporters and prevent them from cancelling. You can only do this when you set up a process that captures this data.

6. Active donor commitment is the enduring passion for your nonprofit. Inspiring donors is key for loyalty.
As fundraisers it is our job to inspire supporters. We need to make them understand that with our help change is possible. Explain what we want to change, how we will do that and what the impact will be. We’re not only inviting them to be part of our vision and mission. We actually provide them a journey which they’ve been looking for to express their charitable feelings (yes, donors have feelings too). It’s a life changing experience and they can be part of that journey.

7. Donors who feel the cause takes them on a coordinated learning journey will be significantly more loyal.
Talking about a journey: the supporter journey. Nowadays, hopefully, everybody is working hard on their supporter journeys. Supporters who are just recruited should get entirely different communication than the supporter who has been contributing for more than 10 years with a much higher value. Find out what are the most useful angles to look at donor communication: relationship stage, donor segment, recruitment or communication channel…

8. To summarize: the big three drivers of donor loyalty are satisfaction, commitment and trust.
This is actually the summarizing tweet within the summary of the summary. The so called nutshell tweet.

9. [Fundraisers] taking decisions with an eye to the longer term would have a profound effect on donor loyalty.
Fundraising is not about short term successes. The ultimate goal is to set up a lasting relationship, which will result in more funding over time with less cost. There are not a lot of fundraisers who would disagree with this. However, if you take a closer look at your fundraising programs, you’ll see that in most programs the long term angle is missing in many places… It’s annoying, so I’ll come back to this topic in a next blog post!

It was a bit of a long blog post, but I’m 200% sure it was worth your time. One more time (and no, I don’t get commission): buy the book! Thank you Professor Sargeant for this incredible valuable work.

So, are YOU convinced of the power of loyalty?
(Answer below and I’ll e-mail you the complete 71 tweet summary!)

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit

Reinier is in love with fundraising since 2001. Ever since he's trying to improve his own fundraising skills and those of others. He's one of the original founders of 101fundraising. At the moment working with amazing clients through his one-man fundraising consultancy. Loves running and baseball.


Alessandro Caldarella · March 2, 2011 at 15:21

So, are YOU convinced of the power of loyalty? (Answer below and I’ll e-mail you the complete 71 tweet summary!)

Hi Reinier ,
I’m HARDLY convinced of the great power of Loyalty!
But it’s also said that: “The loyalty of a dog is often worth more than the provisional self-interested loyalty of a human being. ” ;)

Juan · March 3, 2011 at 11:03

Nice blog! love it… My team is planning to make our annual workshop for WWF Network about donor loyalty this year.. So we do think it’s important!


Nicole · March 3, 2011 at 13:07

Surely loyalty is key in our business, if only for boosting your confidence as an effective fundraiser!

Mary Rusnak · March 3, 2011 at 15:38

It’s certainly not scientific, but just about every former donor who did not receive proper thank-you and cultivation is just that, a former donor! Those who have received proper recognition have continued, even if in a smaller way, to support our mission. Thank you.

Leila Emadin · March 3, 2011 at 17:22

Thanks for the post. Maintaining ongoing good donor relationships is definitely the key. Wish the Tiny books were available here more reasonably.

Darrin · March 4, 2011 at 00:38

Nice knowledge! I have been seeking for something similar to this for a while finally. Regards!

Ann Ward · March 4, 2011 at 14:31

Spot on – I have corporate contacts which I’ve taken on a journey through 3 charities, and made some good friends with, along the way!

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit · March 4, 2011 at 15:03

Thank you everybody for your comments! I’ve sent you all the entire 71 tweet summary…

@Ann: that’s a great example!
@Mary: that’s spot on what it’s about; it doesn’t end with the funds being raised, it’s only the beginning!
@Juan: thanks! I hope Sargeant’s work can guide you in the right direction!

Amalia · March 4, 2011 at 21:22

The loyalty game plan that works is one that gives attention to the donors and respects his money. I have consulted with too many organizations where there is little loyalty from many board members. They don’t want to recognize that organization loyalty starts with them! But that is a differnt issue. Good luck with the blog…

Jos van Haaren · March 10, 2011 at 15:28

Thanks for the post. I agree. Loyalty is in my opinion key to the fundraising business as well. Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty drive profits. Several research reports (see AT Kearney and Bain & Co.) show that it’s more difficult and more expensive (average 5x) to acquire a new customer than to keep one. Loyal customers buy more, ask less time of your organisation, are less sensitive for price and often acquire new customers for you. But the biggest advantage may be that loyal customers don’t need acquisition expenses or starting expenses (only retention expenses). Customer loyalty is therefor the most important driver for profits. And I tend to believe there are similarities between regular business and fundraising business because it’s all about customer value: taking good care of the customer, listening carefully and recognizing his needs and ambitions. Thank you. Regards.

Reinier Spruit

Reinier Spruit · March 10, 2011 at 16:15

Thanks for your reply Jos!

I tend to agree with you that there are more similarities between commercial business and nonprofit marketing or fundraising than most people would like to admit.

I’ll send you the 71 tweet summary, thanks again!

Patricia · March 13, 2011 at 16:21

Good post Reinier. Inspiring. I ordered the book immediately as I’m working on reducing first year attrition for a few of my clients.

Adrian Sargeant · March 25, 2011 at 17:27

Thanks for the plug Reinier. Loyalty is the single biggest issue we face as a sector, with only small improvements in the here and now translating into massive improvements of the lifetime value of the fundraising database. Thankfully this is one area where we can draw on learning from both the commercial and nonprofit sectors as we strive to do better.

    Reinier Spruit

    Reinier Spruit · March 26, 2011 at 10:05

    Thanks for the comment Professor Sargeant! I enjoyed your book so much. I hope every fundraiser (but also board members and everyone involved in fundraising) is going to read it! Thanks again for your valuable work!

ceejay · February 9, 2015 at 14:03

great nuggets thankyou…amazing that they could be compressed into tweets size…I think Trust is key for both sides….the IT world of ‘radical trust’ 15 years ago demonstrated explosively how generosity of open trust can build positive and powerful momentums…I look forward to exploring your blog more, I am new here…thankyou again

Jayne george · March 1, 2016 at 12:23

Thanks Adrian I re read this daily …

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