Increasing Donor Retention for Long-Term LGBTQ Nonprofit Sustainability
Yu, Alexander W.
This capstone project aimed to answer the following problem of practice: How can a nonprofit increase donor retention for long-term LGBTQ nonprofit sustainability? The focal site for this study was One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization dedicated to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families. A conceptual framework was created by synthesizing social identity theory, impact philanthropy theory, and relationship management theory to help explain individual donor behavior. Using a sequential explanatory mixed methods approach, a quantitative survey was sent out to current donors, followed by semi-structured qualitative interviews for select donors of One Colorado. Findings for this project established that while One Colorado’s donors are approximately two-thirds LGBTQ and one-third allies, these populations have notable differences in the initiatives they wish to fund. Furthermore, the donor populations had different motivations for donating. Out of all the constructs associated with the theory, storytelling emerged as having the profound effect of making donors feel that their contributions directly impacted the cause of the organization. Finally, the executive director’s reputation had a large effect on the feelings of donors and subsequently can influence donations. Three recommendations for One Colorado emerged from the research findings. First, One Colorado would benefit from segmenting their donor population to better appeal to both LGBTQ donors and ally donors. Second, the organization should integrate storytelling and reporting into communications it sends out to increase recurring donations. Finally, One Colorado should invest heavily in recruiting a replacement executive director that best exemplifies relationship building. During this capstone project, the seven-year tenured executive director announced their departure from One Colorado to pursue another endeavor. Although the aim of this quality improvement capstone project was to have research findings that could provide recommendations for increasing donor retention for long-term sustainability specifically for One Colorado, the broader benefit of the research findings will add to the academic conversation in the nonprofit organization field for LGBTQ and other social purpose organizations alike.