Increase Donor Retention So They Keep Coming Back

Donor Retention and Gratitude

Do Donor Retention Right

There are ways to increase your fundraising effectiveness while saving time and money. We suggest focusing on donors who have already shown interest in your nonprofit, your current ambassadors are far more valuable than someone new – although new donors are always welcome. Here are some tactics for increasing ongoing donations and donor retention using tested (and a few experimental) ideas and strategies. Basically, do it the right way, stand out, and continue to rapture your donors who have many nonprofits knocking at their doors.

The most effective ways to express gratitude to your donors

Your donors are the lifeblood of your cause. They make it possible for your organization to do the great work it does. When they know they’ve made a difference, they are more likely to continue contributing. A hand-written thank you note is very effective. Make it simple, sincere and uncomplicated. Don’t ask for more money right now, but offer a next step: watch this video, sign up for our email newsletter, etc. For a more personal touch, call your donors and thank them. A recent study showed that thank you calls to new donors can generate up to 40% more revenue in the second year!

How to plan for and implement sustainer and reactivation campaigns

The most common strategy for reactivating lapsed donors is an email campaign. But many nonprofits are finding it more effective to actually have a conversation with donors to find out why they lost interest. One organization created a Junior Ambassador Board where young people go out for coffee with two to three donors and just talk. They ask how the donors became interested in the organization in the first place and what caused them to stop participating. Other organizations set up a phone call campaign to check in with lapsed donors and listen to their concerns.

The best digital automation tools to sustain donor engagement

Instant feedback is great way to let your donors know you value their contributions to your cause. If you have a Donate button on your website, set it up to automatically email a thank you message when someone makes a donation.

Your blog is another great place for automation. Make sure each post is instantly propagated through your social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, etc. Make your communication easy to share with others.

If you really want to automate all your marketing systems (customer database, email lists, blog content, social media, and website tracking), check out integrated systems such as HubSpot, Right On Interactive, and Salesforce’s Market Cloud.

Tips for showcasing donor impact

We humans are almost hardwired to respond to stories. And if you can capture that story in pictures, so much the better. Take a look at your annual report and other communication to your donors. Are you telling stories? Is it visual with lots of pictures and even video? If you need to convey numbers, can you do it with an infographic? Many older donors prefer printed material. How can you make it short, sweet and engaging? Maybe this year you send a postcard or a trifold instead of a text-heavy report. When we see pictures and stories, it’s easy to place ourselves in that scene. Help your donors see themselves as active participants in the great work you are doing.

Strategies for long-term success

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Whatever donor retention strategy you develop, always remember donors are people. Just like the rest of us, when they feel valued and they know their efforts are making a difference in people’s lives, they’ll want to keep helping.

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