Donor Retention: Reasons to Keep Your Supporters Giving Year Round

Donor Retention Rate metrics to increase giving

At this time of year, we assess our fundraising performance and make plans for next year. But as we kick off 2023 and look back at what worked well in 2022, an excellent tool for evaluating donor retention is to look at the donors that gave last year but unfortunately not this year (LYBUNT) and work on engaging them with new opportunities to give. We need to consider the quality and intensity of the relationship between donors and our organizations. If you’re wondering what that means or how it applies to your organization, read on!

TIP:You can calculate Donor Lifetime Value for your whole organization or a segment.

Average Donor Lifespan x Average Donation = Donor Lifetime Value

In fundraising, we talk a lot about donor lifetime value.

The idea of donor lifetime value is a big one in fundraising. It’s the amount of money you expect a donor to contribute over the course of their life with you, and it’s an important metric to keep track of because it helps you understand how to keep your donors engaged and how to get them to give more.

Donor retention is also important because people who give in multiple years are more valuable than one-time donors: they’re much more likely to give again (and again) if they’ve had a good experience with your organization or cause.

We need to be thinking more about not just the length of a relationship with a donor, but also the quality and intensity of that relationship.

When you ask a donor for money, it’s critical that you follow up with them. If you don’t, they will forget about your organization and stop giving. However, if you are able to stay in touch with your donors and keep them engaged throughout the year, they are more likely to give again in the future.

This is why it is important not just to focus on keeping track of donors after they give their first donation, but also on building strong relationships with them before they donate at all. If a potential donor knows that your organization will be there for them when they need help or want information about an issue that matters to them personally—and if you can prove this by communicating regularly—they will be much more likely than those who aren’t familiarized with your brand or mission.

So what can you do to increase your return donors?

It isn’t easy to retain donors, but it is possible! Here are some tips to help you have a successful holiday giving season:

  • Use your database. If you have a donor database, use it. Donors who give during the year may not be as likely to give during the holidays because of their financial situation or other circumstances, so make sure you reach out to these donors by email and social media. A really great report to look for is Last Year But Not This Year (LYBNT). This report will give you a list of lapsed donors that have previously engaged with your organization, but may have missed your last event or campaign.
  • Build relationships with new friends before asking for money. You can do this by mailing or emailing a newsletter, reaching out to them to find out more about them and their interests, or inviting them to a social event as a guest of your.
  • Don’t forget about your old friends. Some people never stop giving even when they move away from their hometowns or change jobs, so don’t forget about them either! Make sure you follow up with them every once in awhile through emails or social media posts reminding them of your cause and asking if there’s anything new going on in their lives (hint: this can lead into asking for another donation). A great way to do this might be organizing a Thank-A-Thon with volunteers to call and thank the previous years donors, wish them a happy new year, and let them know about any event plans you have for the new year.

TIP:How do you Calculate Donor Retention Rate?

To calculate your donor retention rate divide the number of donors from this year divided by last year, and then multiply by one hundred.

Reviewing your status and performance

The end of the year is always a time for reflection. But when you’re reviewing your status and performance, keep in mind that it’s not all doom and gloom.

Yes, results are important but so is the cause behind them. You can’t help but notice the negative headlines  this year. If anything, they should make us more determined than ever before because we know firsthand how vital nonprofits are in our communities—and we want yours to continue thriving!

To help keep things positive while still making sure everyone understands where they stand financially (and hopefully provides some insight into how they can improve), take a look at three areas where many organizations need improvement: accountability, planning and budgeting systems/processes, fundraising capacity (as well as knowledge).

It’s important for new donors to stay connected through the end of the year to increase donor retention in Future Years

You might be feeling a bit of pressure to get your donor retention up this month. It’s important to keep our donors engaged and excited in order to increase their lifetime value—but what if the end of the year feels like too little too late?

I think we can all admit that donating anything is not something that comes naturally; it requires an extra push from us as fundraisers. And while there are many ways in which a fundraiser could help build engagement throughout the year (donor stewardship programs, thank you notes or handwritten letters), one thing that really stands out as being effective for most organizations is staying connected with your new donors through the end of December.

Donor retention doesn’t have to be stressful.

Sending a letter or newsletter to your donors is a great way to keep them engaged in the organization and show them how much you appreciate their support. The last thing you want is for your donors to forget about the important work that they are helping with!

You can send out a holiday card, or thank them personally, by sending an email or newsletter that encourages them to continue giving throughout the year. Include updates on what you’re doing with their money and encourage others to join in as well. This will help build trust between your organization and potential new donors before they become supporters themselves!

If you’re feeling stuck, then try looking at some statistics from your past fundraising campaigns and events. Look at what worked well, and keep doing more of those things. That way, when it comes time to do another campaign again next year (we all know how fast time flies), your chances will be better for success!


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