Hey, I know your donor.

Yeah, I do. He’s that guy you met on the street, online or over the phone. He gave you his direct debit number, then quit before you could process it, like, even once.

Maybe you sent him a letter telling him how much you valued the relationship. It came back return to sender, no forwarding address.

He even completed an online survey saying he makes over $200,000 a year, owns his own home and is happily married. He’s actually unemployed, 3 months behind on his rent and recently divorced.

God, your donors are so complicated.

The truth is, your donors are a complete paradox. They will confuse you, lie, take all your free stuff and leave. It’s enough to do your head in. There is, however, a way to manage this. Here’s how:

Take a look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Starting with the fact that:

 100% Donor Retention = One Donor

If you want 100% loyalty, then you need to have 100% loyalty in return. Are you ready for that? Just limit yourself to one donor with whom you have a lifetime relationship, until death do you part?

No? Too much? Then stop expecting 100% loyalty from the hundreds, thousands, and in some case millions of donors with whom you are having a relationship with.

You are only part of their lives. At best you are an ongoing affair that lasts for many years. The passion can be intense at times even.

To others you are just a fleeting moment that happened once and is unlikely to happen again. Yet your memory of it lingers on in your database to this day.

The More The Merrier

A single $1 million donor is the same as ten who donate $100,000 each. And the same again as 100 donors who each give $10,000. And a million donors giving $10 a month is $120 million a year.

We actually want ALL of those donors. Each and every one of them in every shape and size they come. We even have a name to describe this ideal in modern fundraising, it’s called the donor pyramid.

100% donor loyalty is neither possible, nor is it even desirable.

Let’s take Charity A. They have 1,000 very loyal donors. In fact, half of them gave last year, and on average they gave $500.

Charity A raised $250,000.

As opposed to Charity X. They have 50,000 much less loyal donors. Only 20% gave last year and they only gave $100 each.

Charity X raised $1 million.

Charity X raised four times more money, with a lower retention rate and a lower average donor value.

You are not alone

As you know, every relationship is a two-way street. You want to have lots and lots of relationships with lots and lots of donors.

So don’t be surprised or jealous when you discover that those donors also have lots and lots of relationships with lots of other charities. In fact, that’s a good thing.

All you typically know about each donor is the amount they gave, when they gave it, and how to reach them.

But when you combine your database into a data cooperative with all the other charities out there trying to do the same thing, you can learn a lot more about your donors.

You get to know who else they give to for example, and how often, and how much.

And guess what, the donors that only give to you – and no one else – they give you less.

A donor who only gives to one charity in Australia gives $449 a year to that one charity. Donors who give to two charities give $552 a year – to each charity.

Don’t ask “how loyal”. Ask “how many?”

If you truly want a lifetime of happiness in fundraising, first accept that there is no donor who is going to ride in on horseback and magically solve all your problems.

Stop looking for “Mr. Right”. Stop searching desperately for the perfect donor. He’s not out there.

Instead, embrace the fact that the world is filled with billions of imperfect humans who to varying degrees and at varying times are willing to help you achieve your awesome and amazing goal in life — which is to raise as much money as you can for the cause you care about.