141: Unlocking Donor Engagement: Mastering Donor Retention

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“When I receive a check or I receive an online donation or I even get an in kind donation, I always say that person is sending me and the organization a message. Hey, I’m interested in supporting you.”

–  Karl Ferguson
Episode #141


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

If you’re feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the constant cycle of acquiring new donors, only to see them quickly fade away, then you are not alone! Despite your efforts to send out regular communications and thank-you messages, donors may still feel disconnected and unappreciated, leading to low retention rates.

Karl Ferguson is a highly respected figure in the nonprofit sector with over 30 years of experience. As a seasoned fundraising professional, he’s always looking for ways to ensure donors remain connected with an organization after making their first contribution. What sets Karl apart is his relentless focus on maintaining relationships with already-engaged donors, rather than simply reaching out to new ones. Karl has a clear understanding that a loyal donor base isn’t built overnight but through time, dedication, and meticulously planned strategies. His unique approach in placing a high value on the time of donation, the immediate thank you calls, the letters, the note cards, and tours have resulted in donor retention rates hitting new heights.


Karl Ferguson


  • Many thanks to our sponsor, Bloomerang for making this episode possible. Bloomerang offers donor management and online fundraising software that helps small to medium nonprofits, like First Tee of Greater Akron, a nonprofit that empowers kids and teens through the game of golf. After just one year with Bloomerang they doubled their unique donors, improved donor stewardship, and raised more funds. Head to bloomerang.com/whatthefundraising to learn more about Bloomerang. 
  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

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Get to know Karl Ferguson:

Karl has been fundraising for 30 years and has been in work for organizations from development organizations, and international aid, to all the way to mental health to hospitals. Now he  works for an animal shelter Española Humane, located in northern New Mexico, about a half an hour west of Santa Fe. 


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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


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