Case Study Snapshot:
This national housing repair nonprofit struggled with donor stewardship. They had below-average donor retention, inconsistent giving, and a limited major donor pipeline.
Working with WHC
Insights into their database opened their eyes to the potential they were sitting on. With strategy & communications support, they grew their total number of donors, raised retention, and saw a 50% increase in major donors.
Rebuilding Together is confident the foundation WHC laid will increase revenue for several years to come.
“Our donors just didn’t hear from us….”
Chris Perry, Rebuilding Together’s VP of Development, knew the organization had some fundraising challenges. They had a below-average donor retention rate of 16% and struggled with regular donor communications.
“Our donors just didn’t hear from us consistently,” he said. And their inconsistency with stewardship meant that individual giving was unpredictable and inconsistent as well.Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit that provides free home repairs for low-income families across the country. The national office, located in Washington, D.C., coordinates national funding, marketing, and awareness efforts on behalf of their 125 affiliate locations. Together, these affiliates complete around 10,000 rebuild projects each year, providing safe and healthy housing while building community.
Chris and his team had tried to fill the gaps in their fundraising strategy themselves in the past – either by hiring or by adding more to their own responsibilities. But they didn’t have the time or the experience to make consistent or lasting progress.
Their challenges came to a head while planning a donor acquisition campaign. They realized they didn’t have the infrastructure to track and nurture any new donors. “We needed an expert to help us develop some of these things we hadn’t been able to get traction on for a number of years.”
“We felt comfortable from the first call.”
When the Rebuilding Together team started looking for help, they had a few goals in mind:
- developing a process and structure for stewarding donors;
- identifying donors with potential to give more; and
- increasing fundraising revenue.
Windmill Hill Consulting stood out from the start for Chris and his team. “We felt comfortable from the first call. Their expertise came through. When we finished the call, everybody knew [WHC] was probably going to be our choice.”
“Really, really eye-opening….”
Barbara started with a development assessment and data analytics. What she uncovered stunned Chris. Rebuilding Together’s most affluent donors were giving many times more money to other charities.
“I was surprised at the number of people we could have been trying to increase their donation or at least strengthen the relationship. That was really, really eye-opening.”
For Chris, this data not only demonstrated the challenges Rebuilding Together had, it highlighted their potential to raise more money.
He appreciated that for every data point and fundraising milestone, Barbara had tangible recommendations for his team. A few of her recommendations included:
- expand digital acquisition efforts to maximize ROI;
- focus any direct mail efforts on existing donors; and
- Increase the number of touchpoints with donors that don’t involve asking for a donation.
Beyond recommendations, though, Barbara and the Windmill Hill Consulting team worked with Rebuilding Together to implement their new strategy.
Team members helped with messaging and campaign copywriting, surveying current donors, and reaching out to lapsed ones. And Barbara helped train new staff and affiliate members, making sure the new fundraising strategy benefited Rebuilding Together at a national and local level.
“She set us up for years to come…”
When asked about the concrete fundraising results from working with Windmill Hill Consulting, Chris had several stats to point to.
- “Our donor file size grew 8% year over year, which we’re thrilled with.”
- “Our retention rate grew 4% from 16% to 20%, which doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the stat we were most excited about because we want to keep those donors!”
- “We were expecting our number of major donors to grow 15% after working with WHC; we’ve seen a 50% increase.”
Working with Barbara and Windmill Hill Consulting has “set us up for years to come by recognizing these donors and helping us create that donor pipeline,” said Chris.
His advice for other nonprofits trying to develop their donor stewardship strategy?
“Keep in mind that you need to handle this very intentionally. You need to be methodical. You need to have the right relationships and communication. So don’t try to tackle it all at once. It’s really going to be years to come that we’re going to be growing and adding to these donors. Any nonprofit that is struggling would be impressed with what Windmill Hill Consulting did.”
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