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This happens way too much. It clearly isn’t helpful to deny the facts. It is also important to actually know the facts. How are we doing with our donors? What is the experience actually like for them? Are our donors engaged or dis-engaged? What does the data tell us?

The 2014 Fund Raising Effectives report shows that:

  • Gains of $1.334 million in gifts from new, upgraded current, and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $1.228 million through reduced gifts and lapsed donors. This means that, while there was a positive $106 million net growth-in-giving, every $100 gained in 2013 was offset by $92 in losses through gift attrition. That is, 92 percent of gains in giving were offset by losses in giving.
  • Gains of 1.24 million in new and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of 1.25 million in lapsed donors. This means that there was a negative (25,517) growth-in-donors and every 100 donors gained in 2013 was offset by 102 in lost donors through attrition. That is, 102 percent of the donors gained were offset by lapsed donors.
  • Growth-in-giving performance varies significantly according to organization size (based on total amount raised), with larger organizations performing much better than smaller ones.
    • Organizations raising $500,000 or more had an average 10.5 percent net gain.
    • Organizations raising $100,000 to $500,000 had an average 1.9 percent gain.
    • Organizations in the under $100,000 groups had an average net loss of -2.4 percent.
  • The largest growth in gift dollars/donors came from new gifts/donors, and the pattern was most pronounced in the organizations with the highest growth-in-giving ratios.
  • The greatest losses in gift dollars came from downgraded and lapsed repeat gifts, particularly in the organizations with the lowest growth-in-giving ratios. The greatest losses in donors came from lapsed new donors in all growth-in-giving categories.
  • The median donor retention rate increased from 39 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2013 and the gift or dollar retention rate increased from 40 percent in 2012 to 46 percent in 2013. However, over the last nine years, donor and gift or dollar retention rates have consistently been weak — averaging below 50 percent.
    • The donor retention rate was 43 percent in 2013 (Median). That is, only 43 percent of 2012 donors made repeat gifts to participating nonprofits in 2013.
    • The gift retention rate was 46 percent in 2013 (Median). That is, only 46 percent of 2012 dollars raised were raised again by participating nonprofits in 2013.

You can view the full 2014 FEP Survey Report here >>

Donor experience transformation starts with reality. The good news is, it doesn’t stop there. It moves to, despite our reality, what kind of world we really want to create. True transformation requires both an understanding of the experience today and a better future.

Let’s advocate for “the facts” and “a vision”.

Transformational leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they’d like to create instead.

Denying the truth about relative market share, imperial power or the scientific method helps no one.

Gandhi didn’t pretend the British weren’t dominating his country, and Feynman didn’t challenge Einstein’s theory of relativity or the laws of thermodynamics.

It’s okay to say, “this is going to be difficult.” And it’s productive to point out, “our product isn’t as good as it should be yet.”

The problem with Orwellian talking heads, agitprop, faux news and Ballmer-like posturing is that they take away a foundation for a genuine movement to occur, because once we start denying facts, it’s difficult to know when to stop. 

Tell us where we are, tell us where we’re going. But if you can’t be clear about one, it’s hard to buy into the other.

via Seth’s Blog: Denying facts you don’t like.