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5 Donor Retention Strategies Nonprofits Should Know

5 Donor Retention Strategies Nonprofits Should Know

Donor retention is a big deal for the nonprofit world. More often than not, nonprofits make the mistake of focusing too hard on finding new donors rather than looking after the ones they already have. It’s not enough to just raise money; you need to keep those donors coming back and donating again.

So, here are some tips to boost your organization’s donor retention, along with some great fundraising ideas.

What is Donor Retention?

Donor retention is a key part of fundraising. It’s the process of securing future donations from current donors by keeping them engaged and invested in your organization for the long haul. It also includes tracking the number of times supporters have given to your organization and how much money they have donated in total.

The Importance of Donor Retention

Donor retention is critical to the long-term survival of any charity or nonprofit organization, given that recurring donations reflect stability. It might sound like fundraising for nonprofits is all about the funds, but it’s about so much more. Getting to know your donors and what they want, engaging with them effectively, and building long-lasting relationships are crucial to maintaining their continued support.

Why Do Donors Give?

The Importance of Donor Retention

People donate to organizations for different reasons. Do you take the time to get to know your donors and what they want from your organization? If you do, your nonprofit’s donor retention rate will increase.

Here are some of the top reasons why donors give:

  • They understand and connect to your work
  • They want to listen to any failures and hear what you learned from them
  • They follow the impact of their donation
  • They see realistic goals, timelines, and budgets
  • They hear clear strategies and objectives from your nonprofit
  • They have open discussions and provide feedback
  • They hear these words – thank you!

Why Do Donors Stop Giving?

As we’ve established, donor retention is vital to the sustainability of any nonprofit. But what about the looming risk of donor attrition? It’s important to understand why donors stop supporting your organization so that you don’t jeopardize its future.

Here are some of the top reasons why donors stop giving:

  • They get overwhelmed by too many appeals and donation requests
  • They lose interest in your organization and/or cause
  • They are not seeing the impact
  • They feel underappreciated
  • They think it’s too expensive
  • Donating is too complicated

Click here for a more detailed look at donor attrition and how to prevent it

5 Solid Donor Retention Strategies

Donor Retention Strategies

So, how can you build a nonprofit that will retain donors (and avoid losing them) for a long time? Take a look at these five key donor retention strategies that can help nonprofits understand donor needs, build strong relationships, and increase their donor retention rate.

1.    Cultivate Personal Relationships with Donors

One-to-one meetings with donors start with finding out what you have in common over coffee or lunch. Starting with a request for a donation is not the best idea and can even scare them off. Get to know each other and share your passion for your cause and work.

It’s a good idea to ask staff and board members to choose two or three prospective donors to take good care of. All of the same donor retention objectives apply in this role  – listening, sharing, and informing. Invite them to tour your programs and sit with them at your nonprofit’s fundraisers. Stay in touch with phone calls, emails, and intimate meetings. And don’t forget to thank supporters on a regular basis.

2.    Donors Appreciate Transparency

A deciding factor in a donor’s choice to give is how your nonprofit spends money. Many donors will consider what percentage of their donation goes directly toward your programs – they’ll want to see the positive impact of their contribution. They’ll examine whether a portion of their donation goes towards transaction fees on your donation website or other fundraising or administrative efforts. Donor retention is achieved through transparency, so show your donors exactly where their money goes.

3.    Make Donating Simple

Make Donating Simple

Another key donor retention strategy is to ensure that your donation process is simple. You’ll likely lose donors if the donation process is too complicated or involves too many steps. Make it simple and convenient to donate with mobile giving from any device, anytime, and anywhere.

Make sure to consider the following questions to optimize your donor’s giving experience:

  • What does your nonprofit donation page look like?
  • Does your donation website have the same look and feel as your organization’s website, providing a seamless user experience?
  • How many clicks must a donor make to complete the transaction?
  • Is there a simple “Donate Now” button that takes donors to a form that they can easily fill out and hit submit?
  • Does the donation processing form live on your website? One disadvantage of processing payment via PayPal is that donors are taken away from your site.

Pro Tip: Consider adding “Donate Now” buttons to your social media pages and ‘Gaming for Good’ platforms. This will boost exposure to your mission through sharing and significantly increase giving potential.

4.    Implement Membership and Recurring Giving Programs

Be sure that your donation website includes an option for recurring giving and offers nonprofit membership programs. Recurring gifts and a steady income flow are essential to your nonprofit’s ability to operate, fulfill its mission, and encourage donor retention. Our Donation software allows supporters to make recurring contributions with suggested giving amounts for a seamless and convenient experience.

5.    Invite Donors to Volunteer

Keep donors involved and committed to your cause by encouraging them to volunteer for marketing, service, and fundraising campaigns. This is an effective donor retention strategy as supporters are able to witness first-hand the impact of your nonprofit’s efforts.

  • Use their expertise and listen to their ideas for your fundraising efforts.
  • Send volunteer appeals in your nonprofit newsletter and post them on your nonprofit website.
  • Be sure the volunteer contact person is a ‘people person’ and welcomes volunteers with the appreciation they deserve.

Top 3 Fundraising Ideas to Drive Donor Retention

Drive Donor Retention

Any fundraising campaign aims to increase the number of people who give. If you can achieve this, you’ll have an important impact on the success of your campaign. The key is to create engaging fundraisers that are accessible to everyone.

To maximize your chance of success with donor engagement campaigns, think about planning the following fundraisers:

1.    Social Mixers

Building strong relationships with donors is encouraged at donor-centric events. A casual social mixer is a great way to show staff unity and share stories of your nonprofit.

Here are a few popular examples:

  • How about hosting a special fundraising gala to thank your donors for all their generous support? Add a theme to the gala to get everyone into the spirit of things, as well as a silent auction or an auction of promises to spice things up and generate contributions. Include hybrid tickets to ensure maximum outreach and promote inclusivity for those who can’t make it in person.
  • A wine and cheese tasting event is also a fun social mixer to create further opportunities to get to know your donors. They’ll be happy to pay a registration fee, as they know your overall efforts are about fundraising. Show them (create a short nonprofit video) about the impact their donations have on your organization and beneficiaries.
  • Live town hall meetings are an effective forum for donors to gather, voice their opinions, and raise questions to your nonprofit organization. They are exposed to other donors and community members and hear their feedback while learning about your nonprofit’s upcoming fundraising initiatives. Recordings and videos of the meetings posted on social media platforms engage new donors in fundraising for nonprofits.

2.    Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer to Peer Fundraising is an excellent donor retention strategy for nonprofit organizations to bring their supporters together. The power of peer-to-peer fundraising lies in its teams. Even though individuals tap into their social network of supporters, donors and staff members work together on a walkathon, a virtual 5K race, or golf marathon team. Each team creates a team page on the crowdfunding website. Teams meet for planning parties and get to know each other. They share their victory, which is a bond that adds to donor retention.

Pro Tip: Virtual and hybrid options are available for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns to boost supporter levels.

3.    Open Houses and Conferences

Why not invite donors to your nonprofit to show them the ins and outs of all your organization’s hard work? For a small registration fee, they can get access to:

  • Social media influencers, celebrities, and experts in the field.
  • People sharing their experiences who have been personally affected by the impact of your donor’s generosity.
  • Some fun events, surprise guests, a charity raffle, and live music to make it a memorable and profitable evening.
  • Don’t forget to encourage donors to bring a friend

Conclusions on Donor Retention

The key to donor retention is understanding that donors are more than just a number. They want to feel like their gifts matter and that their contributions have an impact on the world, so make sure you always send them thank-you letters with updates about what they’ve helped fund.

Sarah Bender

About Sarah Bender

Originally from Surrey, UK, Sarah has worked remotely in various online fields for the last 8 years. Currently, she is focusing on writing blogs on online fundraising and special events for a UK audience. When she is not spending her days researching and writing, you can find her running around after her two highly active young sons which constitutes a serious workout program!

See other posts from Sarah Bender