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  • Writer's pictureCharity Chat Podcast

E153 - A new look at donor-retention with Tim Kachuriak

“…be authentic, be transparent, because the biggest thing we have to overcome in the non-profit space is donor trust. Can they feel… that when they give their gift that it’s going to do the things that you’ve promised [it’s] going to do?” - Tim Kachuriak

In this episode we speak with Tim Kachuriak, founder and Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer for NextAfter. We speak about donor-retention; how charities big and small can build meaningful relationships using digital channels with their supporters; and importantly – how charities can give value to their supporters to develop healthy one-to-one relationships and at scale.

1. Developing trust with your donors is both vital and doable

Tim and I spoke about donors and the issue of trust. Of course trust in charities generally and a charity specifically are both hurdles to giving that must be overcome.

According to the Charity Commission for England and Wales, in their 2021 public trust in charities report: we are seeing an increase in trust, from a mean score of 5.5 in 2018 to 6.4 in 2021. According to this same survey, charities are now trusted more than banks and almost as much as the police.

But even among those who trust charities generally, and are moved to get so far as making a donation through a charities’ website, Tim made the point that a very small percentage of these donors actually then complete the process of giving.

Charities can take steps to address this, by providing reassurance, both about the security of donors entering their card information into the website donation form, and also by reiterating the impact that their donation will have.

Simple tweaks to donation pages, such as putting a padlock on the screen to instil a greater sense of security, and adding a few lines of text reaffirming the need for the donation, under payment boxes, can make all the difference.

2. Charities need to do better at creating reciprocal relationships with donors

As we’ve said before in other episodes of this podcast, find the balance between qualitative, storytelling, and quantitative, impact telling, is the cocktail that charities should be aiming for. The right mix of emotion and rationale, and then mutual reward too. This will help to ensure that both parties, the charity and the donor, benefit, which is then more likely to lead to longer and better relationships.

Tim likened a charity’s relationship with its donors like that of our relationship with another person, and added that people give to people. When I think back to the most fulfilling relationships I have, both personally and professionally, these are all reciprocal relationships, where I feel that I get as much as I give. And when we think about the charity supporters we have contacted, or sought to build relationships with, or perhaps how charities have sought to build relationships with us as donors, does it always feel this way? Perhaps it should.

The potential of a fulfilling relationship as a donor to a cause which is seeking to change some small part of the world for the better, could be seen as the most important thing we ever do. And with this expectation comes the risk of unprecedented disappointment if a trust in this outcome is not met.

3. What does an authentic engaging email look like?

Tim made some excellent points around marketing emails, and taking some of the gimmicks out, perhaps removing HTML, buttons etc, to create a more human to human communication instead.

Facilitating a genuine relationship between you and your donors, and using technology to assist in doing this more efficiently is vital. Overcoming the laziness of marketing on repeat, or the temptation to value quantity over quality even in the face of reduced effectiveness, is crucial.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

This episode is brought to you by our platinum sponsor Charity People.

Related episodes that you may be interested in:

E84: Relationship Building in response to COVID-19 with Nick Burne and Giles Pegram -

E74: Behavioural Economics with Bernard Ross -

E50 Psychology of Giving with Dr. Kiki Koutmeridou -


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