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Review: ‘Retention Fundraising’ by Roger Craver

Giles Pegram CBE | 9 September 2014 | Blogs

Giles Pegram CBE reviews Roger Craver’s new book ‘Retention Fundraising’.

There is an opportunity for fundraisers that will change our world. And it is right here.

Retention is the door to the future of fundraising. And Roger Craver’s new book is the key that unlocks it.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

What’s the problem?

Acquiring new donors is becoming more and more expensive. Our response is to test harder, analyse with greater rigour, and invest increasing amounts of money in recruiting the donors that our charity needs to compensate for donors that lapse and to provide new donors that will enable the charity to grow.

And this is the second problem. Attrition, the lapsing of donors, is getting worse. We fumble at the edges about improving it, but ultimately we don’t know what to do. So we go back to acquisition.

Everything tells us that we should invest the bulk of our budget on stemming lapsed donors, reducing attrition, by increasing the commitment of existing donors.

We spend a fortune on acquisition, and know what we spend to the nearest penny. We spend little on retention. In fact, most fundraisers couldn’t tell you how much they spent on retention.


Because acquisition is easy to measure. It is easy to test. It is easy to know what works better and what works less well.

Retention is more difficult. The results of retention activities will only be known if attrition rates reduce and that will only happen in the longer term.

Most CEOs can’t wait. They look at fundraising results on a monthly basis and plan on an annual basis. Where is the room for investing in something that will only prove its worth, probably, after we have left our charity?

Hand holding on to a climbing wall. Photo: Pexels.com
Hold on! Photo by Allan Mas on Pexels

So what’s the solution?

Ken Burnett argued the case in his transformational book “Relationship Fundraising”. Professor Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay provided the research evidence in their book “Building Donor Loyalty: the fundraiser’s guide to increasing lifetime value”. But this was serious academic work. How many readers of this blog have read “Donor Loyalty” from cover to cover?

So why is today any different?

Because there is a new, practical, “how to” manual: “Retention Fundraising: the new art and science of keeping your donors for life”

Roger Craver has impeccable credentials. He was a pioneer in direct response fundraising in the 1960s, telemarketing in the 1970s, on-line information services in the 1980s, multi-channel fundraising and communication recipient of the Direct Marketing Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in the 1990s and donor-designed strategies today.

Roger brings an experienced and critical eye to the future of fundraising. Using hard-nosed data, he has identified the exact ways a charity can deepen donor commitment. He has identified the 8 key reasons donors leave us. He has identified the 7 key drivers that matter most to donors. He explains why these are so key to lifetime value – the only serious measurement of long-term fundraising successNot only does he tell you what the drivers are, he then tells you what to do differently, tomorrow.

In this, he is going beyond any other book. It is totally practical.

And so?

I believe Roger’s book could transform fundraising. What an amazing thing to be a part of. Why would we want to be a fundraiser, knowing we could change our world, and not do it ?

Retention Fundraising by Roger Craver (cover)

To order Retention Fundraising, visit Emerson and Church or call 001-508-359-0019. UK customers can save on postage by ordering direct from White Lion Press.

Or find it in the UK Fundraising bookshop.

About Giles Pegram CBE

Giles Pegram joined the NSPCC as Appeals Director and subsequently set up the highly successful 1984 Centenary Appeal. This appeal raised £15 million, a record at the time in the UK. Additionally, through adopting a donor-centric approach to fundraising, Giles grew the NSPCC’s income from donors and supporters from £3 million to £145 million ( of which £85 million came from regular givers ), whilst the ground-breaking FULL STOP Appeal raised £274 million to kick-start the Society’s campaign to end cruelty to children. Giles continued as Appeals Director until 2010. He is now a freelance consultant.

Giles Pegram was voted UK Professional Fundraiser of the Year 1994, and received the Institute of Fundraising/Professional Fundraising Awards “Lifetime Achievement in Fundraising” award in 2002. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Fundraising.

His interests include food, Burgundy and music.

He was appointed a CBE in 2011.