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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

5 Ways to Retain Your Donors

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

This is a guest blog from Beacon Design by ChemArt


It can be a very costly task to recruit new donors, so it’s essential to focus on donor retention as a nonprofit organization. One way to help increase donor retention, is to up your level of engagement with them, making them feel more connected to your organization. Another way to increase donor retention or donor giving levels is by showing them you appreciate their donation. Many non-profits do that by offering a gift for their donation or a gift as an incentive to get them to the next giving level. Now let’s dive in.

1. Create an Impactful Donor Experience: The first and most important piece to donor retention is making sure you provide an easy way to donate with an impactful user experience. If the new donor has a great first experience, they are likely to come back and recommend friends. So, on your donation page, be clear about your mission and how the donation will help support that and make sure the process of donating is clear, easy and adaptable to mobile or desktop users.

2. Be Consistent and Creative with Your Donor Engagement: One you nail down a great donor experience and get the donation, you can move onto what to do with their information to create an effective donor retention strategy. Start by engaging with your donors regularly, keeping them up to date on what their donation is helping your organization achieve and also what’s new in the organization in terms of future campaigns, so you get their buy in for your next outreach. Some great ways to engage are via fun email automations monthly or bimonthly. Another idea is to be active on social media by creating a social media group to collaborate with your donors and help them feel involved. Lastly an old classic, direct mail. With donors getting inundated with e-mail, direct mail is a welcome distraction. Create pieces like letters or postcards that are informative but fun!

3. Be Transparent About Your Internal Involvement/Volunteer Efforts: If there is one thing we hear a lot, it’s about its donors wanting to engage with organizations that walk the walk and talk the talk. Show them that your mission isn’t just a statement but it’s something that your organization and volunteers live up to. That you are giving back internally to support your mission. That adds to your credibility in your donor’s view and also will encourage them to give to you versus a competitive non-profit.

4. Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You” and Show Appreciation: When you get a donation, get personal by sending a hand written thank you and depending on the size of the donation, include an appreciation gift that ties into your mission. An example is a custom keepsake. It is a great way to say thank you to your donors because it is custom designed to reflect your mission and the programs you are trying to implement. Many organizations use custom keepsakes to say thank you to donors over a certain donation amount or to get a lower tier donor to a higher giving tier. Creating an annual ornament will turn donors into collectors, who look forward to the next new design in the series keeping them coming back each year which will aid in donor retention.

5. Collaborate To Create a Partnership vs. a Transactional Experience: It’s a lot harder to walk away from a partnership then a transaction, so make sure you’re collaborating with your donors. Many donors want to be involved at a higher level, so ask them for their feedback by sending surveys for feedback and/or suggestions to help gauge what’s most important to donors and what kind of activity would help you to retain or grow those relationships. While you can’t take everyone’s suggestions and implement them, if you see a common thread, you can implement that into your donor retention strategy. By creating surveys, you can get a reaction from your donors to help narrow specific suggestions down without getting responses that aren’t relevant to the actual questions.

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