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Losing as Much as You Gain

Recently, I came across some information from a couple of sources that I feel is important to share.  Earlier this week, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) released a report that shows that nonprofit organizations that raised $100,000 in new revenue lost the same amount from existing donors. This was an average of all nonprofits, with larger organizations making some gains, and smaller organizations actually losing ground. To view the report, click on the link.


At a recent “Meet the Funders” event held jointly by the Washington County Nonprofit Network (WCNN) and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) I learned that 71% of nonprofits in Oregon have annual budgets of $100,000 or less, and fall into the category mentioned above.

I find this information troubling. 

What this information indicates to me is that in the quest to bring in new donors, organizations are neglecting the existing relationships they have with their supporters.  While I am the first to agree that it is important to bring new donors to the fold, whether through outreach, events, or networking, it is just as important to maintain and grow the relationships with those that have supported your organization in the past.

As I noted in an earlier post, “Don’t Treat Your Donors like Old Friends, Treat Them like Children”,

“You cannot take their money, and then leave them alone for weeks, months, or years at a time.  You can’t expect them to come back to your organization if you do not keep them informed.  You need to communicate with them on a regular basis and thank them every time you contact them”.  

“You need to let them know how important they are to your organization, and engage them in other ways besides asking them for money.  You need to keep their attention on your organization’s successes and its needs.  Otherwise, they will find something else to do and you will lose their support.”

The recent report from the AFP indicates to me that those organizations, especially the smaller and more vulnerable ones, are failing with their stewardship efforts while they seek new donors.  Losing existing donors means losing the chance to grow their relationships into greater support and planned gifts.

In my opinion, while organizations need to spend time and resources on efforts to win new support, they must spend more time and energy cultivating the existing relationships with which they are blessed, so they can grow to a greater sustainable level.  Don’t give up what you already have for what you might get.