Earlier this week I attended the presentation for the PFRA's fourth DARS Survey, which compares results from numerous face to face campaigns and tries to formulate some benchmarks for donor attrition.
It's the most comprehensive benchmarking survey done across any method of fundraising (the only comparable survey is Fundratios) and there were a number of interesting stats that emerged from that and the PFRA's annual review.
- Attrition seems to be improving after records cancellations in 2007 and 2008.
- Door to door fundraising has increased dramatically in the last year with over 550,000 donors being recruited in this way.
- Street fundraising seems to have plateaued with around 170,000 donors being recruited in the last year - this could possibly be due to tighter site agreements and the lack of agency supply/good fundraisers.
What struck me most was the difference in attrition rates between campaigns, not only year by year, but by individual charities.
The importance of attrition can't be downplayed, as it makes or break the success of a campaign.
Doing some rough sums, over five years the charity with the best donor attrition will have raised three or four times as much as the one with the worst.
That is a huge difference and it reminded me again just how important your donor communications are. Get this wrong and you are simply throwing away your initial investment.
Yet, still many charities seem to focus on the recruitment of donors and neglect the retention part. Ultimately, it is this that will determine the long term success of your campaign.
The most interesting part of the survey is still to come, as Prof Adrian Sargeant is currently analysing the data and looking at the impact of various variables, such as communications and donor age, on attrition.
The results of this will be out in the autumn and it will hopefully provide insight into the key drivers of retention.