A dog’s life: Part 4 of 5

This is my fourth of five posts focusing on Frederick Reichheld’s book “The Loyalty Effect” and how the concept of “loyalty” effects for-profit and non-profit corporations equally. If you don’t own a copy of this book, I suggest you buy it, read it, and change your approach to doing business.

I once worked for a smart boss who said, “What get’s measured, gets done! ” Of course, she said it in a very crisp British accent. And she was right.

Reichheld spends all of chapter eight talking about measuring loyalty and creating a more balanced dashboard tool that includes loyalty measurements. I especially liked his point that “… measurement lies at the very heart of both vision and strategy.”  Here is a little more from Reichheld (page 217) on how important measurement is:

“Measurement is the business idiom. Just as language shapes thought and communication, measures shape the attitudes and behavior of a business organization. The choice of what a business measures communicates values, channels employee thinking, and sets management priorities … Deciding what to measure and how to link measures to incentives are among the most important decisions a senior manager can make.”

Yesterday, I ended my blog with a link to an article from studyfundraising.info. In that article, they provided some suggestions on things to measure with regards to loyalty. I urge you to re-read that article and consider developing a scorecard or dashboard with some of those measures.

After a robust walk with the dogs this morning, I came up with some additional suggestions (some of which align with Reichheld and some don’t). So, here are some additional measures you may want to consider:

  • Donor renewal rate for your overall resource development program as well as for individual fundraising campaigns (this year versus last year)
  • Year-end evaluation of donor database with measurements focusing on:
                  * what percentage of donor records contributed in the last 12 months
                  * what percentage of donor records contributed 13 to 24 months ago
                  * what percentage of donor records contributed 25 to 36 months ago
                  * what percentage of donor records contributed 37 to 48 months ago
                  * what percentage of donor records contributed more than 49 months ago
  • What percentage of last year’s “first time donors” renewed their financial support (regardless of the fundraising campaign). In other words, how many second time gifts did you get from last year’s first time donors?
  • Comparison of this year’s pool of donors versus last year’s pool of donors on the average number of years a donor has supported your organization with a financial contribution
  • The number of “total number of private sector dollars raised divided by the total number of “stewardship touches” (e.g. all touches with donors and prospects who didn’t contribute) … compare this year’s number versus last year
  • For certain fundraising campaigns (e.g. annual campaign pledge drive), a comparison of how many renewing donors increased their contributions versus decreased versus stayed the same
  • For your organization’s “Top 50 Lifetime Donors,” the percentage increase of the total value of their contributions this year over last year (and perhaps even year-to-year over a five-year trending period)
  • Using an annual donor survey to measure “donor satisfaction” with your organization’s ability to impact change through programming

Tomorrow is the last day of this blog series on donor loyalty, and we’ll focus on strategies and activities to help build loyalty. However, I strongly urge you to invest time and resources in measurement systems and providing transparency in reporting these facts because it is this data that will drive strategy and performance.

Does your organization used specific “loyalty measures”? If so, please share your ideas with us in the comment section of this blog. If you think I’ve missed something, please weigh-in. There are no right or wrong answers.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Donor perspective on targeted mail appeal

As originally promised when I first started this blog, I wanted to engage others in resource development discussions; however, I really wanted to be “donor-centered” about it.


So, yesterday I posted a question that a good friend of mine asked me about targeted mail and my opinion about including a copy of the written case statement in the mail package. Since emailing some advice to this friend, I decided it would probably be wise to ask real donors about their targeted mail and direct mail experiences and motivations.


Here is one donor’s perspective on what appealed to them when they have responded to mail appeals:


Yes, I have given to a non-profit charity through a targeted or direct mail solicitation.  It started when I was 9-years-old to an organization named “World Vision”.  I was excited to be able to make a $9.00 donation per month and get a photo to show me a kid that I was helping. I even had a kid write back to me to say thank you. In this case, I’m sure I read the letter and maybe that is what prompted me to give, but I was young and do not recall what it said.


I have also given to Easter Seals, American Heart & Lung Association as well as a few other organizations because they sent me mailing labels. Now, the only reason I gave to these entities was because I wanted to use the mailing labels and felt guilty using them if I didn’t give. I did not have any direct connection to them nor do I recall receiving a thank you letter or note from them. I know these entities are doing good things, but I was just not connected to the mission so I have no desire to give again.  Also, in these cases, I didn’t even read the letter enclosed.


Finally, I have given to several Boys & Girls Clubs across the Pacific Region….most simply because they asked. Yes, I read the letters and many are very good, some just okay, and others unfortunately were very lame…but I still give because I am familiar with and believe in the mission.


I find it interesting that this donor didn’t do a lot of reading of stuff in the envelope before deciding to contribute.


What about you? Have you ever personally contributed to a charity, political candidate or cause just based on a mailing? Please share your story and what got you hooked?