Expressing thanks for donors

Thanksgiving in Canada has already passed, but it's just around the corner in the U.S. Expressing gratitude for donors is a crucial element in your fundraising strategy. Taking the time to say thank you ensures better loyalty and retention so you can continue processing donations in the future. Because year-end fundraising is essential for many organizations, this is a great time to tell contributors how much you appreciate them.

Many nonprofits face high donor attrition rates. In fact, many individuals will never return to your charity after the first gift. You need to understand what motivates them to give and form more meaningful connections, according to nonprofit source Fundraising IP. One of the best ways to do this is to recognize your donor base as individuals. 

Using personal communications to improve donor retention
Online fundraising tools are only a small part of what makes a great experience and keeps people coming back. Donor retention has an important value to organizations. Returning contributors may give more than first-time donors because they already trust the nonprofit. People often contribute to charity because it makes them feel good. However, they will stop giving if they don't feel like their money is making a difference. The simple step of thanking them and displaying impact can make a big difference. 

How big of a problem is attrition and why should you double down on your retention efforts? A report from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute revealed organizations lose 105 donors for every 100 new contributors they gain. This translated to $96 in losses for every $100 in new gifts. While attrition may not be this high for every nonprofit, not prioritizing retention efforts can put you on a slippery slope. 

The issue for many charities is that the largest growth potential comes from first-time givers. These donors run the risk of subsequently becoming the greatest losses when no retention efforts are made.

Take the time to thank donors
Showing appreciation to contributors after their first gift is an important step for long-term retention efforts. Communicating with new donors is crucial because the costs of acquisition are much higher than retention, according to nonprofit blog Frogloop. Fortunately, there are a multitude of ways to express thanks. For high-value donors, a personal phone call or handwritten note can make a great deal of progress in ensuring they return. 

However, nonprofits can win at retention when they get in touch with donors once a month, the article suggested. This keeps your organization at the top of mind for contributors and makes them feel important, especially when the communication has personalized elements. Reaching out can be as simple as sending an email or postcard to let donors you're thinking of them and appreciate their contributions. Sending holiday messages can be an effective approach as well. Surveying donors shows you care about their opinions and that their relationship with your organization isn't one-sided, which can lead to higher levels of engagement.

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