Donor Retention Strategies for Nonprofits

Donor Retention Strategies for Nonprofits

Sometimes we focus so much on hosting fundraising events and finding new donors that donor retention is overlooked. Yet keeping and cultivating current donors is easier and more effective than searching for new donors. Donor retention is about getting to know your donors, appealing to them, and keeping them coming back for more. How to find out what donors are thinking and feeling is also underestimated in its impact on your fundraising bottom line.

Know What Donors Really Want

While it might sound like fundraising for nonprofits is all about the funds, in reality, it’s about so much more. Money is simply a tool – a fundamental way for your organization to accomplish its mission. One of the basic principles for fundraising is to see beyond just money and see your donors. Relationships with them and showing your passion for your cause are of the utmost importance.

People donate to organizations for different reasons. Do you take the time to know your donors and what they want from your organization? Here are 15 reasons that will encompass what most donors want:

  • To know your work
  • To experience your passion for your cause
  • To know you and form an emotional bond with you
  • To visit your projects
  • To connect emotionally to your work
  • To know your failures – to hear what you learned from them
  • To know their donation was used for what it was intended
  • To know the impact their donation had
  • To have opportunities to give their feedback
  • To see realistic goals, timelines, and budgets
  • To hear clear strategies and objectives from your nonprofit
  • To be remembered – keep in touch with donors
  • To have open discussions with you and other donors
  • To see satisfied staff, staff retention and staff unity
  • To hear these words – thank you!

Approaches to Donor Retention

How to accomplish this long list of donor needs and increase donor retention can be realized through these key approaches.

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. Get to know each other and share your passion for your cause and work.

Staff members and board members may choose two or three prospective donors to act as the primary liaison between the donors and your organization. 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 non-profit’s fundraisers. Stay in touch with phone calls, emails, and intimate meetings.

Host Social Mixers for Donors

Building strong relationships with donors is encouraged at donor-centric events. A casual social mixer is a way to show staff unity and share stories of your nonprofit. This November #GivingTuesday brings new and old supporters to your nonprofit fundraising mission, and having a special gala to say thanks is important. Consider a holiday charity event such as a wine tasting 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. Tell them of the impact their donations have on your organization specifically. Honor donors individually for their contributions in fundraising for nonprofits.

Provide Opportunities for Team Fundraising

Peer to Peer Fundraising is an excellent strategy for nonprofit organizations in bringing donors together. The power of peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns lie in its teams. Even though individuals tap into their social network of supporters, donors and staff members work together on a walkathon, 5K race or golf marathon team. Each team creates a team page within 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.

Host an Open House or Town Hall Style Meetings

Invite donors to your nonprofit and go into depth about your work with individual booths or program areas. Timing for an open house may be as a part of your year-end #GivingTuesday fundraising for nonprofits. Invite social media followers and encourage donors to bring a friend.

Live town hall meetings are an effective forum for donors to gather and voice their opinions and raise questions to your nonprofit organization. They are exposed to other donors and community members and hear their feedback.

Online town hall meetings provide convenient ways to brief donors on the progress of a specific program, announce a new program or fundraising campaign. Nonprofit program staff and administrators who are well informed can engage donors in a lively town hall meeting at both live formats and online. Recordings and videos of the meetings posted on social media platforms engage new donors in fundraising for nonprofits.

Invite Donors to Volunteer

Keep your donors involved and committed to your cause. Encourage donors to volunteer for marketing, service, and fundraising campaigns. Use the expertise of your donors 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 graciousness they deserve. 

Transparency = Donor Retention

A real factor involved in a donor’s decision to give is how your nonprofit spends money. They’ll review what your administrative costs are and see if they find them appropriate. Many donors will consider what percentage of their donation goes directly towards your programs. They’ll look at 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. Show your donors where their money goes.

Implement an Online Recurring Giving Program

A very important factor to look at is just how easy it will be for a donor to make a donation. First, you’ll want to consider what the donation website will look like. Does your donation website have the same look and feel as your organization’s website, providing a seamless user experience? You also want to consider how many clicks a donor must make to complete the transaction (and keep in mind that many online donors abandon the mission if there are too many steps). Is there a simple “Donate Now” button that takes donors to a form that they can easily fill out & hit submit? A big consideration is also whether or not the donation processing form “lives” on your website. (i.e. one disadvantage of processing payment via PayPal is that donors are taken away from your site).

Be sure that your donations website includes an option for recurring giving. Our Donation software does – and administrators can determine the recurring giving period. When a donor commits to a recurring donation, their credit card is kept on file and automatically charged each period. This makes it so easy that you are sure to increase your monthly giving program.

Maureen Peine

About Maureen Peine

Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for 8 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.

See other posts from Maureen Peine