[APRA-NW] Question about measuring "Retention"

Susan Hayes-McQueen shq at uw.edu
Wed Apr 8 15:31:22 PDT 2015

Hi Michael,

We look at this a few different ways-and I'm sure there are others who could expound upon this.

I would not look at the major donors the same way. One gift every three-five years is great for them. One MAJOR gift, that is. They can and should be giving something every year... So maybe it's not the size of gift after they've reached a certain threshold, but rather, have they given this year or not. Ideally, someone has a personal relationship with that person and so retention isn't maybe something you need to worry about-the relationship trumps any marketing strategy you might have.

So, if your $1M donor from last year doesn't give this year, it's not that you haven't retained the donor... maybe you might look at some other filters, like a three-year mean. It's also meaningless to donors b/c our fiscal years aren't the same necessarily as their giving cycles.

What is your goal in looking at retention? If it's too keep your numbers increasing, I would take out major gifts entirely.


From: APRA-NW [mailto:apra-nw-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Swenson - US
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 4:15 PM
To: apra-nw at u.washington.edu
Subject: [APRA-NW] Question about measuring "Retention"

Hi fellow APRA members,

We are interested in learning how other organizations measure retention of their major donors. Of course, the phrase "donor retention" can mean different things to different people, so we're interested in how you might define it for your organization. As we look at our donor base, we find donors that our "mid-sized" donors who give in the range of $2000 - $25,000 annually are very different than those who can give at larger levels (above $25K). Additionally, those who give what we call "mega gifts" ($1 million or more) in a single year behave differently than those at other levels of giving, and must be treated as such. Measuring retention at different levels of giving is likely required.

Any ideas, thoughts, or previous studies conducted in on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Michael L. Swenson
Director, Research Services & Operations
Prospect Development | Transformational Engagement
Phone 253.815.2697 Mobile 253.219-7949 email mswenson at worldvision.org<mailto:mswenson at worldvision.org> Skype - baycruiser1
Mail Stop 816 : P.O. Box 9716 : Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 USA

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