Sometimes we focus so much on 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.
Why Do your Donors Give?
While it might sound like fundraising for nonprofits is all about the funds, 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. Building relationships with donors is of the utmost importance.
Know What Donors Want
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 some reasons that will encompass what most donors want:
- To know and connect to your work
- To know your failures – to hear what you learned from them
- To know the impact of their donation
- To see realistic goals, timelines, and budgets
- To hear clear strategies and objectives from your nonprofit
- To have open discussions and provide feedback
- To hear these words – thank you!
Approaches to Donor Retention
These key approaches can help organizations accomplish this list of donor needs and increase donor retention.
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 to bring donors 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, 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.
Host an Open House or Meeting
Invite donors to your nonprofit and discuss your work with individual booths or program areas. Timing for an open house may be part of your year-end fundraising plan. 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, and 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 in a donor’s decision to give is how your nonprofit spends money. They’ll review your administrative costs and see if they find them appropriate. Many donors will consider what percentage of their donation goes directly towards your programs. 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. Show your donors where their money goes.
Implement an Online Recurring Giving Program
A very important factor is 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 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.