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  • Writer's pictureThe MSG Team


What is "donor retention rate"? It's a fancy way of saying what percentage of donors continue making their gift to you. As we say all the time, "sales is sales" and this is no different. In the for profit world, businesses would track their client retention rate as well as their attrition rate (how many clients they have lost).

For one reason or another, many nonprofits choose NOT to keep track of this. As a result their fundraising slips because they either don't keep up with their donors OR they don't take the time to bring new donors on board in order to replace those who might leave. If you knew how many donors you lost on average each year, you would then know how much more money you need to bring in? Right? That's a topic which we have covered in the past.

Right now we want to talk about how you can increase your retention rate. Here is the big secret . . . turn them into monthly donors. Have them set up payment for every month, instead of one time a year. Make sure you do your own DD on this, but after looking at a number of resources, we found that retention rates for annual donors to be all over the place. Some resources said as low as 45% and some as high as 80%. So not everyone is on the same page on where they are getting their data from. However one thing that was VERY consistent, was the retention rate for those who give on a monthly basis. For those who made recurring payments each month through their bank or credit card, their retention rate each year ranged from 70% - 85%, depending on the various resources you may find.

This year, when making your annual gift drive plan, consider transitioning some of your current or new donors to a monthly gift plan. Let's be honest, not every donor is going to want to do this. Between some wanting to stick to their end of the year donation plan and others not wanting to have monthly payments . . . it will be tough to get 100% of your donors to do this. However it never hurts to ask and see who may be interested.


Midwest Studies Group helps nonprofits to increase their resource development capacity by connecting them stronger to their community through feasibility studies, community impact studies, and planned giving studies. We also offer coaching for capital campaigns and EOS. For more information please visit

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