There are multiple ways to improve donor retention, survey finds

Nonprofits face difficult tasks each day. Not only are they challenged with supporting a specific cause, but they must also be constantly be processing donations to reinforce themselves in an industry where organizations have to make the most out of each dollar.

Charities now find themselves engaged in an uphill battle amidst an economic recession. According to a recent Bloomerang infographic, donor retention has dropped 9 percent in the past five years from 50 percent to just 41 percent. The decrease in benefactors has a direct correlation with a nonprofit's ability to sustain itself, Bloomerang found. Attrition in the 2,377 charitable organizations was as high as 59 percent. With less revenue generated, charities find themselves having to downsize and consolidate resources in order to keep their heads above water.

However, a separate study conducted by Software Advice found that there are a number of ways nonprofits can improve upon their donor retention. The Austin-based consultancy firm found that 60 percent of donors want specific anecdotes to see how their initial donation is physically impacting the nonprofit or their cause. Another 46 percent of survey respondents favored a personalized letter when being asked to donate, but 35 percent also said they would prefer nonprofits wait seven months or more before asking for another donation. 

With more than one-third of benefactors preferring to be left alone for many months after an initial donation, increasing donor retention can be a difficult challenge. Software Advice found that impact and news stories were the most popular types of information that contributors enjoy receiving from organizations because people like to see their money at work. These types of stories are a great way to demonstrate how a donor's gift has positively impacted the charity and hopefully an influence in his or her decision to give again. Nonprofit news and upcoming events were the second and third highest categories with 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Personalized sentiments also popular
Donors also like being appreciated, but not in a generic type of way. Regardless the size of their donation, contributors like it when a nonprofit demonstrates that it values their gift. In what may come as a bit of a surprise, benefactors prefer receiving a piece of direct mail as opposed to email or another type of communication, Software Advice found. 

People also enjoy being publicly recognized. Thirty-one percent of donors preferred if their names were displayed on a nonprofit's website, while 56 percent would like to be mentioned in an annual report or a newsletter. 

Additionally, respondents felt that nonprofits should limit the number of time they ask for donations. Forty-six percent of donors believe charities should ask for contributions just one or two times, while another 41 percent of people believe nonprofits don't need to ask for more donations altogether. That type of consumer sentiment can be difficult to comply with, seeing as charitable organizations strongly rely on donations to raise capital.

But building a vast network of donors - and keeping them over time - can be accomplished through personalized messages and by not applying pressure on benefactors. If their values align with your nonprofit's, your group will be accepting online donations sooner than expected.

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