The Psychology of Nonprofit Board Members

Donor Retention Project ImageThe Donor Retention Project – Week 5:
Nonprofit Board Members

This may seem like a strange title for my analysis of week 5 of The Donor Retention Project.  It’s true, Gail Perry of Fired Up Fundraising, gave excellent advice about how to handle the, “Donor Abyss” which considers how hard you work to get donors and yet how little effort there is to make them feel happy and close to the organization once they are donors.  She also spoke of the unfortunate reality that more donors does not mean more money for the organization. You can purchase your own copy to hear about that.

I want to focus on the psychology of board members.   And how it can be used to retain donors. 

I think Gail is correct when she suggests, “the psychology of a board member is that they pay more attention to their colleagues on the board then they do to the staff.”  Keeping that in mind, she wants staff, or whoever is taking the lead, to present the facts surrounding the topic and then ask for the board’s thoughts about how they can solve the problem.  Sure, a lot of those ideas could be listed and presented to the board, but they will be more engaged, excited and willing to implement their own ideas.

Now, let’s consider how to implement this theory.  Present the following:

  • Improving donor retention is necessary to decrease the high costs (both in human and financial resources) of constantly finding new donors.  There is a recent study that showed a 33% increase in subsequent donations when thank you calls were made within 24 hours of a gift.  What are ways that we can test to help increase gifts?
  • For-profit businesses Gail referenced a 10% average retention rate (a little research can help you find an average retention rate and source for you to use). Do you think nonprofits would be higher or lower?
  • Donor retention rates are currently X for our organization.  Take five minutes to talk to the person next to you about ways the two of you could turn this around.
  • Raising money is essential for board members but not everyone feels comfortable soliciting donations.  Brainstorm other ways in which board members can help the development effort by working to retain donors (ideally, encouraging thank you calls, hosting parties, inviting friends to events, etc..)

The possibilities about how to use this theory are numerous.  As are the ways to improve your donor retention.

To experience 12 experts views on donor retention that will help your organization, purchase your copy of The Donor Retention Project by clicking here.

Read the rest of my series on 90 Days to Larger Gifts and Lifetime Donors by clicking here