Take action.We’ve been doing this major gift work for many years and have analyzed hundreds of non-profit major donor data files. And we’ve always been concerned that most non-profits are losing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to value attrition each year without even knowing it.
Why? Because they’ve been growing the overall program each year. And frankly, that’s all you’re looking at when you evaluate whether your major gift program is doing well.
But here’s what I’ve been noticing lately, and it greatly disturbs us.
Lately, we’ve been reviewing the major gift data of dozens of non-profits, and a majority of them not only have very high year-over-year value attrition rates, but they’re also going down in overall giving each year.
This is bad news!
Like I said above, typically we see some growth year-over-year because there are always new donors coming into the major gift pipeline, masking the behavior of the other donors. But this is changing.
So I’m writing today to put out a clarion wake-up call that NOW is the time to figure out how your major gift program is actually performing. Right the ship and start building authentic relationships with your major donors.
Here’s why you need to make this happen:

  1. The old 80/20 rule is shattered. It’s now more like 90/10 or even higher. What this means is that only 10% of the donors on your file are giving the vast majority of your revenue. If you don’t get your major gift program turned around, you’ll be in a heap of trouble over the next several years. This is a trend you cannot ignore.
  2. There’s an economic downturn coming. I’m not saying this to scare you. I’m saying this because it’s just a reality of our country’s economic trends over the last 100 years. And all indicators are pointing to it. The way to lessen the blow to your organization is to make sure you’ve built solid relationships with your major donors – donors who will make the choice to continue supporting your mission even when finances are tighter.
  3. Because it’s the right thing to do. If you want your organization to be donor-centered, you have to build a one-to-one relationship with each of your major donors. The mission of your organization is not just about what you do every day to change the world. It’s also about helping your donors find joy in their lives through their giving. That takes a commitment of time and resources from leadership to create a structure in which that can happen. Your donors are investing in you, and you need to invest in them.

If you don’t have a clear idea of how your major gift program is performing overall, and you don’t know what your value attrition rates are year over year over year – I urge you to pause and take the time to figure it out. (Tweet it!)
From the very beginning, Veritus has offered to conduct a free assessment of your major gift file. We do this for free because we want all non-profits to know what’s really going on with their major donors. In every file we’ve looked at, the non-profit was astounded by what we were able to uncover.
I encourage you to take us up on it. Now is the time to figure this out and turn it around.
PS — You can download our data instructions for us to conduct the free assessment. Or you can set up a call with us and we’ll talk you through it and answer any questions. If we think your file is too small to evaluate, we’ll let you know immediately.