Win, Keep, Lift
When a partner chooses to stop giving to an organization, you can usually find the reason by looking at how they were interacted with after their gift. Unfortunately, it's a very common thing to hear about partners who gave a faith-stretching gift that they were excited to see God use, only to hear nothing back.
It's not only a reporting issue - there are 3 things that are your duty to do for every partner of your ministry: win them to your cause, keep them as a valued partner, and lift them to higher levels of giving or involvement. By doing these three things, you can drastically increase your retention of new givers.
When Bill Bright founded Cru, he had a clear, three-fold plan to fulfill his mission. That plan was (and still is) to win students and faculty to Christ, build them up in their faith, and then send them out as lifelong laborers for Jesus. Within Development, we have our own version of this three-fold plan. When working with any potential partner of the ministry, we hope to Win people over to our organization, Keep them involved, and Lift them to higher levels of involvement.
This is the step that many get caught up on - they focus all of their time trying to find new people to give. As we see in every business model, it's far cheaper to retain a client than to win a new one. In Development, 'cheaper' doesn't typically refer to financial cost, but to the time we spend.
In reality, winning people to our cause is a lot of work. Too many teams get 'elephant hunter syndrome' - they focus on one huge gift that will fix all of their problems. That gift rarely comes, though, and the team is left out in the cold. Successful winning is a hard, slow process where you continually build a caseload of partners.
Dan Willmann says that when you're looking for someone to win, you want to find someone who HAS IT
H - Heart for God
A - Ability to Give
S - Spirit of Giving
I - Interest in Your Ministry
T - The Timing is Right
The average organization loses anywhere from 10-20% of their partners each year. As mentioned earlier, it's far less work to keep those partners than to find new ones every year.
Just because someone has given a second gift doesn't mean they've been 'kept' - without continual appreciation and greater levels of involvement, they will leave. The two keys to keeping partners are consistent communication and active involvement.
The two greatest indicators for whether a partner will increase their giving are their duration of giving and growth in the personal relationship with the partner.
It's a myth that partners will lift themselves - they must be asked!
It's important to remember that these three areas are not mutually exclusive. While you are lifting one partner, you are winning and keeping others. Only by using all three of these strategies in concert will you see the number of your partners and the effectiveness of you Development strategies increase over time.