Attracting new donors to your nonprofit is great. But retaining those donors is even more important. Did you know that the average nonprofit retains only 45% of its donors each year? That’s less than half of the new supporters who give to your nonprofit organization!
How can you make more of your donors stay? You have to earn their love and loyalty. We’ve put together some helpful tips to make it easier for you to retain your valued donors.
What is donor retention?
Donor retention is a measure of your nonprofit’s ability to keep its donors. Your retention rate can vary from year to year depending on how many donors you manage to retain. A donor retention plan can go a long way to boost donor retention numbers because you’re actively working toward earning donor love and loyalty.
How to earn donor love and loyalty
Thank your donors
The first step toward encouraging donor love and loyalty is to properly thank your donors. How many times have you made a donation only to receive nothing in return? It happens more than you think and can turn donors away. Instead, make sure you’re thanking all of your donors promptly — we’re talking within a day or two. That way, they know right away their gift was received and that you’re grateful for the donation. A lack of gratitude is one key factor that drives donors away from nonprofit organizations.
Show the impact of donations
Another reason that a donor will stop giving or won’t make a second gift is that they don’t think their original gift made a difference. It’s important to share the impact that their donation made on your organization, even if they contributed a small amount. When they see what even their small gift accomplished, donors are more willing to give again and may potentially grow their gift to increase the impact it has. A great way to share impact is to tell impactful stories.
Encourage recurring donations
Recurring donations are a great way to boost donor retention because donors aren’t giving once and then disappearing. Instead, you’re giving donors the ability to make an ongoing gift. These recurring giving programs can boost donor retention to over 80% after the first year and over 95% after year five, according to Network for Good. That’s a serious improvement over the 40% to 45% average donor retention rate. Not only is setting up a recurring donation program beneficial for your donor retention rate, but it also helps your nonprofit raise more as well. Monthly donors give 42% more in one year than one-time donors.
Host fundraising events
Another way to boost donor retention is to host fundraising events. This is a great way to combine showing impact with creating a community around your nonprofit. Participating in events can increase feelings of belonging and encourage one-time donors to give again. Just make sure that when you host your fundraising events, there’s an emphasis on thanking those who give and showing the impact donations will have on your nonprofit. It helps to use a fundraising thermometer to establish a goal with a real, tangible visual representation of how much you’ve raised at the end. This can inspire donors to take part in order to see that goal reached and accomplish a good deed.
Offer other ways to get involved
There’s more to donor retention than just encouraging that second gift. Sometimes you have to inspire one-time donors to get more involved in your mission by taking other actions. This can help them feel as though they’re taking steps to address the same problem that your nonprofit is addressing. Encourage donors to sign petitions, lobby for legislation that improves the lives of those you serve, take part in volunteer work or even do something as simple as signing up for your newsletter. These actions are a great way to build a deeper connection with one-time donors without asking for a second gift right away. They’ll remember how they helped support your cause by going above and beyond a one-time gift, which might be just the push they need to give again or even on a recurring basis.
Keep the lines of communication open
The above five elements all boil down to one important thing, the need to keep the lines of communication open. You need to be available to your one-time donors to answer their questions and help them see the impact of their gifts on your organization. You shouldn’t disappear from a donor’s life after they make a gift and you send a thank you. Find ways to stay in contact like reaching out on giving anniversaries and calling to wish major donors a happy birthday. There are tons of ways you can keep yourself at the forefront of your donors’ minds. You just have to keep the lines of communication open with them to further build your donor relationships.
There you have it! With these six tips for retaining donors, you’ll be on your way to earning donor love and loyalty. It’s all about keeping in touch with your donors and encouraging them to stay involved with your nonprofit organization. While your donor retention rate will likely never be 100%, you can boost your rate with a donor retention plan that incorporates the above six elements.