It seems the two could be symbiotic.
Retaining donors is the top challenge non-profit and charitable
organizations face. According to Kingston, in 2016, charitable giving
was up 2.7 percent from the year before, which amounts to a staggering
$390.05 billion. Within that amount, however, 75 percent of first-time
donors do not give a second gift. And the average donor stays just 1.9
years to support the specific cause.
It begs the question: Why such a high turnover rate?
Trust and shifting relationships are a plausible explanation as donors
are applying more discretion to their decision making. But, that’s not
the full cause. Fundraising donors also are reluctant to give again when
they are not repeatedly asked, not properly thanked, or not given
sufficient reason why their gift is vital. These all are repeatedly
So, as benefit Auctioneers (or auction professionals in general), how
can one assist in donor retention and increased gifts? By correcting
those overlooks and asking, thanking, and communicating.
Fundraising: Understand your donors
First, it is beneficial to understand your donors and their passion for the cause.
Use social media and other tools to investigate the cause and its
audience. Find out to which other charities and organizations your
attendees have given gifts, and find a way to personalize the event
experience for them.
According to Tom Ahern, it is important to “Make each donor feel
special. Make each donor feel wanted, happy, good, needed, proud,
pleased, and important.”
Then, make the cause ongoing rather than just focusing on one event. You
can do this by changing the consulting business model to a more
philanthropic model rather than an event-centered model. Doing this
could increase donor retention. How? Changing the model shifts the
mindset away from thinking the event is the highlight of the fundraising
effort. Donors then can see giving as an ongoing effort as opposed to a
“one event and it’s done” situation.
Also, invite diverse people who can bring different elements and
experiences to the event. Then, you can emphasize the common passion
shared by so many unique people and highlight the community they have
created. Next, inspire that community with real stories of the impact of
the audience’s gifts.
During the event, make sure to constantly remind donors what the cause
is and what their assistance is going to be. You can do this by using
“Impact bullet points.” In addition, make sure you are an “expert in
gratitude” by weaving in the pronoun “You.” Using “you” personalizes the
donor and connects them to the mission.
Following all of this helps an auction professional establish a
trusting, thankful relationship with donors. Get that foundation set,
and you, as an auction professional, have the power to influence donor
This article was an excerpt from a presentation given at the 2017 NAA
International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Want even more tips on
this topic? Full audio of the presentation is available in the NAA Knowledge Center