The Lifetime Value of a Donor (3 of 3)

In Receiving a Donation, we make the case for why receiving a donation well is vitally important. In Creating a Great Donation Experience, we share how you can begin putting all the pieces together for your thrift operation. Now, we want to discuss the payoff, the lifetime value of a donor.

Calculating the Value

The value of a donor over his or her lifetime surprises most. Many look at donations as a one time transaction. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The table below shows the value of a donor over one, three, five, ten, fifteen and twenty years. These numbers are real dollars that can support the non-profit. What the table does not show is the number of donors which become financial donors to the non-profit. This metric is hard to quantify. But our experience reveals that a donor of stuff can become a donor of cash when properly asked.

Avg Annual Donations per Donor 2.4
Avg Value per Donation $80.00


1 Year 3 Years 5 Years 10 Years 15 Years 20 Years
$192.00 $576.00 $960.00 $1,920.00 $2,880.00 $3,840.00

Paradigm Shift

So, where are you and your thrift operation? Are you receiving donations well or have you identified places where you’re falling short? If your answer is consistent with most SMCo Thrift partners, we have work to do. To start, let’s identify several of the mental hurdles to be addressed.

The first, and most lethal, mental hurdle is, “We have more than enough donations already.” The person or persons who believe that statement are a danger to the organization. That attitude is the most hazardous mindset one could have in the thrift industry.

The second mental hurdle is, “Put it on the pile.” Piles are too common in thrift stores. Their presence displays the belief that piles are simply part of the landscape of thrift. Piles do not have to exist. Donations can be processed with an efficient through-put system. Finding the very best of your donations quickly will have an immediate impact on sales.

So, what must change? Your way of thinking is the first thing that must change. It involves a paradigm shift.

  • From too much to never enough.
  • From a transaction to a relationship.
  • From the acceptance of piles to an efficient system.

If you desire help in reprioritizing donation receiving at your organization, choose the next step most appropriate for you or contact the SMCo Thrift team to start a conversation.

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