Nonprofit Growth: 8 Strategies to Retain Donors

The pandemic brought home the importance of staying connected with existing donors. Here are ways you can boost giving.

How Do You Boost Donor Retention?

Maintaining strong donor retention rates was a winning strategy for making it through the COVID crisis, according to the 2020 DonorPerfect Fundraising Benchmarks Report.  Nonprofit organizations that kept in touch with their existing donors saw greater growth in giving levels in 2020 than those who did not. 

Here, then, are DonorPerfect‘s eight ways that your organization can achieve higher donor retention.

 1. Know Your Donor Retention Rate

If the past is indeed prologue, then start by measuring your donor retention rate. Tracking whether it is going up or down is essential if you’re going to discover ways to improve your score.  The success of your overall fundraising efforts is measured by the baseline number for your donor retention. 

To calculate your 12-month donor retention rate, divide the number of donors who gave again this year by the total number of donors who gave last year.

2. Maintain Detailed and Complete Data

From coding gifts to categorizing donors in your nonprofit CRM, the information you track will assist in explaining a drop in donor retention and highlight what fundraising campaigns and strategies are working.

Your data, of course, is only as good as what you put in. That’s why it’s key to practice good database health via proper gift and donor data entry. When the time comes to analyze your data, you can trust your numbers.

3. Find Out How Donors Want to Be Involved

One size doesn’t fill all when it comes to donor engagement. It’s important to know the type of relationship your donors want to have with your organization to best foster the relationship. Some donors are very generous but also very busy. They want to support you with a donation but may not want to be flooded with emails and may not participate in many of your events and activities. Other donors may be looking for those things and want to have an impact beyond their financial donation.

Try asking donors about their preferences and understanding what motivates them. Then track this information in your database so your team can be mindful in their engagement with them.

4. Use Consistent, Multichannel Communication

You need to earn donors’ trust if you want to hold onto them. Building trust means that they come to understand that you are putting their money toward good projects and producing results. Commit to regularly providing your donors with updates on projects and checking in on their wellness through a variety of platforms, such as:

  • A quick email update on the status of a project
  • An email from the director that addresses current events
  • personal letter or phone call from your staff
  • DIY video shared to your social media channels
  • An announcement of a completed project in a local newspaper
  • Testimonials shared by your donors and those you’ve helped

5. Survey Lapsed Donors

It is wise to take note of your donors who gave last year but not again this year and request their feedback. Hearing from those who have past experience with your organization will give you insight on ways you can improve your fundraising strategies.

The solution may be simpler than you think. Many donors end up not giving to an organization the next year. This is not because they’re uninterested in the cause or that the organization did anything wrong. It could be they simply forget to do it or thought that they did it.

6. Encourage Monthly Giving

You may be losing donors because they simply forget to give or can’t find the time. Remove these obstacles by offering a monthly gift option that automatically processes their recurring gifts.

The advantage of this option is that monthly givers tend to give more than one-time givers over the course of a year. The typical one-time donation is about $50. The average monthly donation is about $30. So, $360 a year. Typically, this means that a monthly recurring donor is worth about seven times more than an average one-time donation.

7. Showcase What Makes You Unique

Think about what makes your organization unique. That is what you can offer your supporters. This can mean showing donors the direct impact of their gifts by inviting them onto the land they help protect.

When social distancing measures were lightened, Solano Land Trust invited donors outside for coffee and conversation with their executive director. They were able to see the completed project in-person and also hear about things still happening behind the scenes.

8. Seek Inspiration From Your Peers

Check out what your fellow fundraisers are doing. There are great opportunities to learn from other nonprofits and constantly be looking at what’s working for others that you can emulate.

Simply start following your fundraising peers on social media and introducing yourself to other businesses in the community. You may even gain a chance to collaborate on an new initiative that your donors will love.

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.



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