If you run a nonprofit, you understand the importance of donor retention. The key to keeping supporters coming back is strong donor relationships, and the foundation of that is solid communication.  

Donor retention depends mainly on engaging your existing donors; engagement is key to retention – a high retention rate demonstrates that a nonprofit has a healthy support system. 

Recurring giving is important because it indicates that a nonprofit has a healthy support system. Donor acquisition costs are high; this is reason enough to focus on donor retention. Nonprofit Quarterly states that it takes about 18-24 months to recoup the costs of recruiting new donors since most first-time gifts are two to three times less than the marketing cost.  

Your existing donors require your attention. In other words, you need to develop donor retention strategies, so your current donors remain loyal to you, continue to participate in fundraising events, and contribute to your organization. Retaining your supporters deepens donor-nonprofit relationships and creates opportunities for donors to increase their gifts over time.  

Here are 10 Tips for Donor Retention: 

  1. Know Your Current Retention Rates 

Take stock of what you currently have – this means having a thorough understanding of retention rates. Calculate the number of donors you retained from the previous year and determine the number of donors who gave more than once, year after year.  

To calculate your donor retention rate one year over another: 

Divide the number of year two donors by the number of year one donors, then multiply by 100. Here is an example:  

  • A nonprofit had 250 donors in 2020, and 100 of them gave again in 2021 
  • 100/250 = 0.4 (40% retained) 

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the average retention rate for nonprofits was 43.6% in 2020, which means a 30.8% retention rate is low, and the nonprofit will need to work hard to get new donors.  

  1.  Create a monthly giving program

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, recurring giving is at the top of the list. Large donations are valuable and are worth pursuing, yet recurring gifts offer a reliable income stream. Benefits to the nonprofit include:  

  • More dollars: according to Network for Good, “the average recurring donor will give 42% more in one year than those who give one-time gifts.” Also, monthly donors have a more considerable lifetime revenue per donor.  
  • Higher retention rate: while new donor rates of retention average less than 23%, monthly programs have rates over 80% the first year and 95% after five years (Donorbox).  
  • It’s easier for donors: once a donor signs up for recurring donations, gifts are made automatically and at a frequency of their choosing.  
  • It’s predictable: recurring donors will likely stay regular donors. When a supporter enrolls in monthly giving, that shows they invest and care about your cause. 
  1. 2. Thank your Donors

Etiquette and appreciation matter. A sincere message of gratitude demonstrates that you appreciate and care about your donors. Many software programs allow for automatic thank you emails. These automated messages are helpful to thank multiple donors in bulk. We recommend adding a personal touch to your messages — address the recipient by his name and acknowledge the exact amount donated by them.  

FYI: a great thank you is more than a tax receipt with “Thank You” printed on it. However – do send a receipt immediately after a supporter makes a gift.  

Here are a few tips for thank you messages:  

  • Personalize: generic thank you notes and form letters don’t carry much weight. Personalized emails help donors feel included in your mission by addressing supporters by name and mentioning their donation history to remind them of their contribution and what your organization accomplished thanks to their involvement.  
  • Include visuals: visual elements make emails engaging while showing appreciation. We suggest sharing your organization’s achievements, volunteers, and donors themselves. Videos are also a great way to share your stories.  
  • Offer something tangible: giving something physical is memorable in our digital world. If possible, send out handwritten thank you notes with photographs of your organization’s success, statistics, and relevant numbers relating to donations.   
  • Social media shout out (if anonymity is not an issue) 
  • Phone call 

A thank you for a tip: make sure your donor doesn’t forget you — request a second gift sooner than you think is necessary. Some data shows that donor retention is 23% compared to 60% after the second gift.  

  1.  Involve Your Donors

Donors derive a sense of satisfaction when they feel like they are part of what you do. Rather than focusing solely on monetary contributions, encourage supporters to participate in events as volunteers. Donors will probably share information about your events on their social media. Another way to engage your donors is to involve them in peer-to-peer fundraising. 

Asking for feedback is a lesser-known suggestion to nonprofits — you can accomplish this with surveys. There is a myriad of questions you can ask. For example, you could ask supporters why they are interested in your organization, what they’d like to see in the future in terms of your targets and goals, or about the donation process itself.  

Donor engagement takes many forms, such as: 

  • Advocating for your cause 
  • Volunteering 
  • Serve on the board 
  • Connect you with others interested in your mission 
  • Networking  
  • Fundraising 
  1. 2 Inspire and Inform

Like donor involvement, your supporters need to feel like part of your organization. A fundamental way to guarantee their investment is to create a real relationship that gains trust. Be straightforward when you engage patrons directly. Don’t tiptoe around the subject – no one wants to feel tricked.   

Here are a few suggestions to employ when engaging through communication channels like email, social media, and your webpage:  

  • Share successes 
  • Share challenges 
  • Show donor dollars at work
  1. Indicate the Impact of Gifts Made by Donors

This item ties directly to number three. To put it bluntly, donors participate in fundraising activities because they want to make a difference. Nonprofits should make donors aware of how their contributions have helped the cause by sharing statistics and personal stories of their impact through emails, mail, social media, and website updates. Consistent communication goes a long way toward building trust.  

  1. Matching Gifts

A matching gift is a fundraising method where businesses encourage their employees to donate by making donations themselves. If an employee donates “x” amount, their employer donates an equivalent amount. Some organizations have a 2:1 or 3:1 giving also wherein organizations make two to three times the contribution made by the employee. Many businesses organizations look for philanthropic opportunities.  

Did you know corporations donated a whopping $20 billion to charities last year? (Source: https://doublethedonation.com/tips/matching-grant-resources/nonprofit-fundraising-statistics/)

  1. Simplify Recurring Giving

Donors might be turned off if they need to fill out lengthy forms each time they donate. We suggest you create donor accounts to help store their data in the nonprofit’s database, so the donor is not required to re-enter their information every time they donate. Donors can use their accounts to track their recurring donations, scheduled donations, or alter their preferences while donating. Ensure your organization uses a secure software platform to safeguard your supporters’ sensitive financial data. iConnectX offers a safe option for nonprofits to enable recurring deposits from donors. 

  1. Facilitate Mobile Giving

Get to know mobile-friendly donation options. Smartphone users will reach 7.5 billion by 2026 (Statista, 2021). Donors look for quick and easy ways to donate. If you offer simple donation options like text-to-give and text-to-donate, more people will be inclined to contribute to your nonprofit. 

  1. Segment Your Supporters

Customize campaigns tailored to a specific type of donor. You probably have long email lists with plenty of subscribers. But do all of them connect to nonprofits in the same way? In other words, you will need to find out how many subscribers respond to your emails and how many passive subscribers you have, then create customized email campaigns for each type of subscriber. 

Some donor categories are:

  • New donors 
  • Donors who make infrequent donations 
  • Recurring donors  
  • Lapsed donors 

Each donor category is essential and warrants different kinds of messages and emails. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach for email campaigns, we recommend creating a separate campaign for each category and sending specific messages and letters to each corresponding donor segment.  

Donor segmentation provides valuable insights into donor behavior. It is good to communicate directly with lapsed donors to determine why they lost interest in your organization. We also suggest you send messages and emails to donors making infrequent donations with information about the benefits of recurring donations and how they can make them.  

  1. Don’t Miss out on the Year-end Donors

The end of the calendar year is when many donors contribute to various charities. Giving Tuesday and Christmas are examples of when nonprofits maximize revenue. Most year-end donors are one-time donors — make sure to collect their details and connect with them after making that donation.  

  1. Host Engaging Events

The primary source of income for nonprofits is fundraising events. Whether you host an in-person or an online event, you must ensure that your events engage your donors. Try hosting interactive events where donors can participate — this will give them a great experience, and they likely will look forward to upcoming events, too.  

The Wrap 

Donor retention streamlines with fundraising platforms. Find a platform that includes all of the features to attract new donors, retain existing donors, plan and host events. 

iConnectx is a comprehensive fundraising event management platform with many features, like online events and social media and email marketing campaigns. iConnectx also offers valuable donor data and insights so you can customize nonprofit marketing and promotions. 

iConnectX’s solutions and features include:  

  • Online auctions    
  • Event ticketing      
  • Text-to-give            
  • Secure Donations 
  • Secure payments 

The iConnectX platform is free for nonprofits. Our mission is to provide innovative, powerful tools for charities to maximize fundraising efforts, and our technology is available on the web and through a mobile app.  

Reach out to us to explore your options and to schedule a free demonstration.