Charlie Hulme interview: understand the ‘why’ as well as the ‘who’

Charlie H

Charlie is CEO of DonorVoice UK, who work with not-for-profits to reduce rates of donor attrition and in building supporter relationships.  He tweets at @charlieartful.

The interview is about retaining donors.  Retention has the coming idea in fundraising for…a long time. Ken Burnett published the fundraising classic ‘Relationship Fundraising’ in 1992, with Professor Adrian Sargeant’s ‘Building Donor Loyalty’ published in 2004, both books are well-known and acknowledged references on how charities can build strong and enduring relationships with supporters.  Charlie is a real evangelist for the cause, and opened my eyes to the danger that many charities are — often without knowing it — committing suicide through inertia.  We know that two things — the ‘functional’ and ‘personal’ connections to brands — are critical in determining the level and durability of charitable support, yet many not-for-profits routinely follow the mantra of ‘just ask more and it will be fine’.

But we still find ourselves hemorrhaging support. Around one third of first time supporters of charities in the UK do not give a second gift, and in the US around 70% of donors have not continued giving a year later. Acquisition budgets increase, but retention budgets do not exist. We furiously slop water into the leaking bucket, even while holes continue to appear.

In the UK this is especially important, as the generation who the CAF call the ‘Civic Core’ (the 9% of the population who contribute 66% of the time and money donated to charity) are now well into their 60’s and 70’s. This group have doubled their charitable giving in the last 30 years, as younger people’s engagement with charity has fallen off a cliff. To even sustain out current donated income, UK charities urgently need to reach new audiences, as well as building stronger relationships with existing supporters — no mean feat.

Charlie talks in the interview about the fundamentals of retention. He also speaks about recent work done to test how commitment works, the psychology of commitment to brands and organisations, and what people want from organisations they support.  Hope you enjoy it.

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