When an employee leaves a company generally an exit interview is conducted to find out why, what the employee thought of the organisation – should nonprofits be doing some ‘sample exit interviews’ when people lose interest in them and stop supporting them – would it be of benefit?

Would it be beneficial to see why people stop supporting your cause?

We all know it’s the active members of an organization that are its lifeblood. Without them, the organization could easily wither and die.

As soon as supporter or membership numbers start to decline and organization should be taking action to see what is causing the decline and take steps to reverse it. The reality though is that many organizations don’t know why people are losing interest, what’s driving them to abandon their support. Without know this the “fix” won’t be easy or perhaps even possible.

To reverse any decline organizations need to know why – with an understanding as to why people are leaving it would be possible to take steps to retain supporters and to look at ways to attract new ones with longevity.

Perhaps one of the main reasons people are not continuing to support is that they’re not being told how important their support is, that without their support they organization is unable to do its work. When was the last time your spoke to your supporters about how important they are? If you haven’t for some time, change that and start talking to them – remember it’s not all about you, it is about your supporters, so next time you pen a newsletter talk about “the supporter” more than you do about yourself.

Organizations also need to understand who their supporters are, where they come from and what attracts them to your organization; again if you don’t know this – take steps to learn what it is about you, your work that attracts supporters, this will help in attracting new supporters and retaining those you have.

Supporters want to know what other ways they can be “part” of an organization, some will be happy to send a regular financial contributions, others might want to meet with other members of the organization – do you offer opportunities for people to get together and learn first hand about the work you’re doing, and for supporters to meet other supporters?

Another thing that could be causing a decline in your supporter base could be that you’re not conveying where you’re at with your goals, if you’re working to help homeless people off the streets – are you letting your supporters how many people now have accommodation as a result of the work you’ve been doing? Also, let those you’re supporting tell their stories; hearing first hand the difference your organization is making could be all it takes to retain people who were considering moving their support to someone else.

We all know it costs more to gain new supporters than it does to retain those you already have – do you have the resources to continuously replenish your supporter base, probably not; so why are you not askign your supporters why they’re leaving? Why are you not inviting supporters to see you in action? 

If you don’t know what makes your supporters tick, what drives them to leave – it’s time to make a change, the next time someone withdraws support why not give them a call – no not a letter, a phone call to thank them for their support, to say how sorry you are to see them go and to remind them of how valuable the work you do is and that their support has enabled you to achieve xyz.

If you would be interested in a donor retention interview for your organization please get in touch, I’d happily talk you through how to tailor one for your organization. 

Remember – let your supporters know that they are important, that you wouldn’t exist without them.


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