Why do donors stop giving? If you want your organization to last, you need to know the best strategies for improving donor retention. The solution may vary from organization to organization. But one thing is certain: keeping donors is one of the most pressing challenge facing nonprofits today.
Thankfully there are a number of methods to maintain your relationships with your donors and keep them active supporters of your cause. In this post, we’ll share four simple donor retention strategies to prevent donor lapse:
- Create An Outstanding Welcome Experience
- Invest In Ongoing Education And Engagement
- Be Systematic About Following Up With Unengaged Donors
- Develop A System For Improving Donor Retention
1. Create An Outstanding Welcome Experience
You can’t redo a first impression. So after a new donor makes their first contribution, you need to roll out the red carpet.
In practical terms that can mean sending a handwritten thank you note, calling the person to thank them and welcome them to the organization, or even providing them with a small piece of commemorative merchandise. You can also send them through a welcome email series to introduce them to your nonprofit’s goals and operations.
In addition, you also need to ensure that your welcome message (whatever medium it’s delivered in) emphasizes the importance of the gift you received from the donor.
Think about it: when someone contributes to your organization, they’re in the best possible state of mind regarding your cause. You need to reinforce this feeling by validating the effect of their contribution.
Never assume donors know how their contributions will be spent. Be specific about why they’re making a difference. Show them how you’ll use their gift to further your cause. If you can nail the welcome experience and create an emotional connection, you can significantly increase your chances of retaining donors.
2. Invest In Ongoing Education And Engagement
Once someone donates, it can be easy to forget about them until it’s time to start fundraising again. But by that time, they’ve already forgotten about your nonprofit, and aren’t likely to be inspired again.
The core principle of establishing a relationship with your customers is consistency. Especially consistency in your communication. Luckily, there are multiple ways to reach your donors online.
Social media is probably the first idea that comes to mind. While it’s important to maintain an active presence on social, building a strong email list will benefit you the most in the long run.
Email is still one of the best forms of communication and marketing. You can easily launch a weekly email newsletter that keeps people informed about what’s going on with your organization, and why it matters to them.
The most important aspect of this donor retention strategy isn’t the fact that you’re emailing people every week. It’s the value of what you’re sending that matters.
An effective engagement strategy will tell your organization’s story through updates and content. Photos of your team hard at work in the office. Videos thanking donors and celebrating a new milestone. Blog posts about what your organization is doing in the field are all pieces of content that can create a personal connection between you and your supporters.
In this way, you can tell the day-to-day story of your organization and remind donors of the feeling they had when they first contributed to your cause. A compelling nonprofit email will boost engagement.
3. Be Systematic About Following Up With Unengaged Donors
Using email also provides another important benefit: a reliable data source to measure the engagement of your donors.
If you send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter, you can see open and click-through rates, indicating how often people interact with your brand. When someone doesn’t interact with your brand for a while, it can be an early indicator that they’re losing interest. There are a number of ways to respond to this indifference, but some type of personalized outreach, like an invitation to a donor lunch, is usually a good first step.
Of course, you don’t want to overreact if someone didn’t open your last two emails. But when a donor starts disengaging over the course of several months, it can be a telling sign that you need to work on your relationship.
4. Develop A System For Improving Donor Retention
In the longterm, you should develop a system to spot disengaged donors. Email is the most straightforward method, but you have other options available. Take advantage of your donor management system’s reporting method to identify and recover lapsed donors. However, you choose to proceed, having a system in place to proactively address donors who are at risk of churning can be an invaluable tool.
More broadly, putting all of these strategies into practice will help you improve donor retention, and grow your nonprofit.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.