If you could have one big donation today, or multiple smaller donations in the future—which would you pick?

Be careful, because there is a right answer. The big donation is appealing at first. The amount is often all we focus on because it’s a quick fix now. But, if you could take smaller donations, they’re more likely to continue giving. Eventually that amount will surpass the large, immediate donation.

We caught up with Steven Shattuck, VP of Marketing for Bloomerang, at the 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising. Here he talks about why donor retention needs to be at the top of mind for nonprofit fundraisers and how to make it happen.


Well it’s important because if you’re not worrying about donor retention you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. So the national averages are in the 30s and 40s. And if you can raise that to the 50s and 60s, that can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in additional donations from your database. If you can get that donor retention rate a little bit higher.

The biggest thing is donor communications: the follow up, reaching out to people who donate to you, thanking them, building those personal relationships. If you can get the second gift, then you’re golden. Your retention rates are going to go into the 50s and 60s just by getting that second gift. So really strong follow up, strong donor communications is the key.