My day with Jay Love from Bloomerang

jay loveDo you know Jay Love? Of course, you know this gentleman, but you just may not know that you know him.  Many non-profit professionals know Jay as the man who innovated the online donor database system known as eTapestry.  More recently, you may have heard whispers about a new online CRM product called Bloomerang, which focuses on donor loyalty instead of more transactional metrics found in traditional donor databases. Well, that is Jay’s newest gift to the non-profit sector.

A few weeks ago, I extended an invitation to Jay and asked him to speak to the Fox West Philanthropic Network (FWPN) about donor loyalty rates and the data associated with this phenomenon.

Over the course of an hour or so, FWPN members were exposed to data and lessons learned from the 2012 Fundraising Effectiveness Project. I thought I should share some of those points with you today.

Focus on 10 percent

Jay started his presentation by asking the group a multiple choice question.

“What does a 10 percent increase in donor retention rates mean in terms of lifetime dollars raised?”

a) 50% increase
b) 100% increase
c) 150% to 200% increase

Of course, the answer is the most dramatic answer . . .  c) Increasing donor retention rates by 10 percent can improve lifetime dollars raised somewhere between 150% and 200%.

Jay does a nice job of illustrating this point mathematically.

If your organization started with 2,000 donors at an average size gift of $200 and a retention rate of 41%, you would raise $820,859 over 10 years in lifetime giving. With everything else staying the same except moving your retention rate from 41% to 51%, your organization would raise more than $1.2 million in lifetime giving.

These initial slides are designed to get your attention. I know that Jay had my attention at this point.

bloomerangDo you love your donors?

It shouldn’t be surprising that Jay Love is obsessed by “donor-love”.

One of the statistics I scribbled down on my notepad was why customers of for-profit companies stop doing business with those companies.

According to survey research, 77%  of consumers stop frequenting a company because they don’t believe the company is interested in their business.

Jay does a nice job of tell a story about his dry cleaners who after many years of business still don’t use his first or last name when he picks up his clothing. Where is the love? He even conducted an experiment where he started using their first names in an effort to personalize the relationship, but it resulted in no change.

The moral to the story is that when a new dry cleaners shop opens up closer to Jay’s home, he is very likely to switch.

Of course, this is similar with regards to non-profit organizations.

Most donors don’t make a second contribution. Why? Well, simply stated . . . they didn’t feel a connection, which isn’t any different from the for-profit explanation of “they aren’t interested in me“.

How many of your donors are currently shopping for a new place to invest their charitable giving?

The answer is . . . you don’t want to find out! Take an interest and get to know your donors.

Take the time to be personal

Jay talks about the power of a handwritten note. Not only does he keep his handwritten gift acknowledgement letters, but they don’t even fill up one shelf in his office.

The power of handwritten notes really resonated with me because I do the same thing as Jay. I tape them to the door, and generally have a hard time throwing them away.

Are you already sending handwritten notes to donors? Want another idea about how to personalize philanthropy? I really liked Jay’s idea of sending individuals, who make a first time gift to your organization, a “new donor welcome packet“.

Always remember . . . the more personal the gift acknowledgement, the more likely you are to get contribution number two!

Please note that personalized acknowledgements are only one-third of the battle. You need to communicate to the donor that their donation is being used in the manner in which you promised. You also need to demonstrate ROI. However, if personalizing your acknowledgement strategies get you one-third of the way to a renewal, then what are you waiting for?

The final two notes that I took from Jay’s presentation were:

  1. Your targeted and direct mail should use the word “YOU” twice as much as the word “WE“.
  2. Your letters should be written at a sixth to eighth grade reading level.

My advice to you?

Jay was super kind and uploaded his FWPN presentation to SlideShare. If you have the time, it is worth it to click here and view his slides.

I’m sure that you won’t find it surprising that Jay built many of these principles as well as the teachings of Adrian Sargeant and Tom Ahern into his new online donor CRM product. You may want to check out Bloomerang when you have a chance.

Do you use Bloomerang? If so, what has been your experience? Are you tracking your agency’s donor retention rates? What has been your ROI experience. Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


    1. Thanks, Dani. I love to share the love with the awesome readers of this blog. They love philanthropy and I love that about them.

      Your monthly guest blog post is queued up for tomorrow.

      Wish you were here at BGCA’s Midwest/Southwest Joint Leadership Conference. You are missed.

      See you soon!

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