Why Nonprofits Have Low Retention Rates and How to Fix It

Did you know that nonprofits as a whole have a retention rate of 49%? That’s staggeringly low compared to the for-profit retention rate of 94%.

Why the huge gap? I’m mean, you’d expect that people who support issues like gay rights and global warming would be repeat donors.

To help shed some light on this, I called Marc Pitman, an expert on fundraising.

In this video, Marc  and I talk about:

  • How fundraising jargon and fiscal calendar thinking has hurt retention rates
  • Why making a second ask in 90 days can ensure retention
  • How setting expectations creates better donor-centric relationships
  • How you can leverage events to boost retention


Steve March 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm

It is unclear as to what you mean by non profit and subsequently the statistics you use can be confusing. You should make a distinction between trade and professional associations and other non profits. These groups have retention rates in the low 80′s to mid 90′s and are not the group you are discussing. PLease make clear you are talking about other non profit and fundraising c-3′s and not c-3/6 associations and societies.

Tony Rossell March 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for sharing this information. The latest numbers that we have gathered for the 2013 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report show individual associations with a 79 percent retention rate and trade associations with a 86 percent retention rate. So these are a good deal higher than the typical non-profit number quoted here. The full benchmarking report will be out in two months, but I am sharing some highlights now on my blog. Tony

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