4 steps to increase donor retention

For charitable foundations, cultivating a healthy fundraising campaign can be one of the most important aspects of running the operation. However, recent information from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project suggests the majority of nonprofits may be overlooking a fundamental component of creating a sustainable stream of donations.

In the recent survey, the organization found the retention rate for first-time donors is only 23 percent. By itself, the number is low, but when you consider more than 60 percent of second-time donors give again, the question stops being "how can we secure more donors?" and becomes: "How can we inspire new donors to give again?"

In 2012, nonprofit organizations lost 105 donors for every 100 gained, according to the survey. To increase retention, The Fundraising Authority devised four steps nonprofits can easily introduce into any existing fundraising campaign:

1. Give Gratitude
As households continue to recover from the economic crisis of 2008, charitable contributions have become a less important part of personal budgets. When individuals or family do decide to give, organizations should be prompt in their response.

Send out thank you letters or a new donors welcome kit that provides additional details about the respective organization. These steps, while helping to educate, express a sense of gratitude to donors.

2. Stay Relevant
After the initial donation, which may or may not be followed up with a thank you communiqué, some organizations opt to rely on the donors themselves to stay connected. This is a mistake.

Staying relevant to contributors is an important part of securing subsequent donations. Newsletters, annual reports, holiday cards, all are great ways to stay in contact with donors on a regular basis without coming off as redundant. For people who make large gifts, a more intimate communication, like a phone call or personal meeting, is suggested.

3. Encourage Non-Financial Involvement
It is easy for donors to identify themselves simply as individuals who give money to a particular organization. But part of retaining and cultivating a loyal donor base is going beyond financial investment.

Encourage donors to take part in the organization at multiple levels. From physically volunteering, like canvassing, to participating in something as quick and easy as a letter writing campaign, keeping donors involved in the organization increases the likelihood of repeat donations. For important benefactors, a more significant role, such as serving on a board or assisting with charity fundraising ideas, can be effective.

4. Ask
The final step is simple: Ask for a second donation.

Organizations often rely too heavily on new donors independently pursuing a course of regular giving. Don't let them. Ask donors to give again. If they feel appreciated and included, it's likely they'll continue to donate.

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