What does a sad love duet between Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have to do with fundraising? A lot.

The sappy-yet-oh-so-catchy lesson? When we take a relationship for granted — whatever type of relationship it might be —  it tends to go south.

Think about it. When was the last time you brought your donors flowers? Not literally of course. But when was the last time you showed them you care about your relationship through report backs and other thoughtful gestures?

Here’s why showing your love is so important.

According to the Target Q1 2013 Index of National Fundraising Performance, revenue declined slightly in the first quarter of 2013 from the first quarter of 2012.

More troubling is that donor numbers declined at a greater rate — a median 6.1% from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013 continuing a trend that predates the recession.

With donor acquisition declining and donor populations shrinking with attrition, your current donors are literally your organization’s lifeblood.

Unfortunately, most organizations I know put more emphasis on acquisition than on retention in terms of strategy, monetary investment and staff resources. We’ll sure as heck shell out for roses on the first date, but we won’t bring as much as a daisy to our true blue.

When Sea Change does focus groups, we often ask participants to map on a dart board the organizations they give to. We ask them to put the organizations they are most loyal to (e.g. they give to them year in and year out) in the bullseye.

The organizations that make it to the bullseye are often the organizations that focus on donor cultivation, reports backs and other similar big hugs — the organizations that bring their donors flowers way past the first date.

So as you begin planning for your budget next year,  I’m going to let you sit with the wise words of Neil Diamond and think about your relationship with your donors. Does this describe you? If so, stop by the flower shop and start browsing.

“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers

You don’t sing me love songs

You hardly talk to me anymore

When you come through the door

At the end of the day

I remember when

You couldn’t wait to love me

Used to hate to leave me

Now after lovin’ me late at night

When it’s good for you

And you’re feeling alright

Well you just roll over

And you turn out the light

And You Don’t Bring Me Flowers anymore.” – Neil Diamond