Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

Attrition Is Your Enemy

blue rule

It takes 4½ times the energy, resources, and staff to secure a new donor than to keep the donor you have. Perhaps you should pay a little less attention to securing new donors and pay a great deal more attention to those who have shown their friendship and support for you.

If you don’t monitor carefully your attrition of donors or members— you neglect, at your own peril, the single most important element in your fundraising office.

Read what we hear from Allegiant Direct. They’re an outstanding outfit that helps you dramatically decrease your attrition.

“Donor attrition is the equivalent of termites eating away at your home. Many home owners are unaware that the support system of their flooring is being destroyed.

In a recent AFP presentation, only 1 of 35 nonprofits knew their donor attrition rate! 34 nonprofit organizations were unaware that the base of their giving pyramid may be drastically shrinking.

It is not uncommon for us to see nonprofits with donor attrition ranging from 60-70%”
I see it more often between 40-50%. It is especially fragile for first-time donors. You better have a strategy of how to hold on to them.


Take a look at this Attrition Chart. It shows what happens per 1000 donors over a five year period for attrition rates of 20% (you have little to worry about if you’re that low), 40%, and 60%.

At 60%, if you don’t keep feeding the hungry pipeline, after five years, you go to 10 donors. Ouch!

Attrition should be discussed frequently at staff meetings and with your Development Committee.

A tip. Don’t compute Memorial Gifts. These are most often to honor a friend— not for the institution. They won’t renew.


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