The data are in: nonprofits need better fundraising performance. AFP's Fundraising Effectiveness Project 2013 reveals that gains of $769 million from new, upgraded current and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $735 million through reduced gifts and lapsed donors. Even worse, gains of 866,000 new and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of 909,000 in lapsed donors, for a loss of 44,000 donors. That statistic really hurts; retaining donors is not nearly as tough as bringing in new ones, and the new ones cost you about six times more.
"You've got to help us out," they said, "we really need you!" And so, with the ink still wet on my incorporation documents, I agreed to conduct my very first fundraising retreat for the board of The Commodores, not their real name. I even drafted my friend Rebecca, with her PhD in organizational psychology, to share the project with me! We expected to enlighten these folks, dazzle them with our brilliance, and then give them fundraising strategies that would reinvigorate them and give them a brilliant future.