Donor retention is the not-so-hidden secret to maintaining fundraising success. If you’ve been in the nonprofit fundraising space for even a short while, you know it’s more cost effect and time efficient to retain a donor than to gain a new one.
We all know this, but how do you actually increase donor retention and reduce churn?
Here are 5 strategies you can begin to implement now in order to rise above donor churn.
Donor Retention Strategy #1: Setting Donor Retention Goals
Setting retention goals is often an overlooked, yet important aspect of donor retention. Without goals, we don’t truly know if we’re doing well at donor retention or if we’re missing the mark by a mile. Settings goals doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take some data analysis and thought.
Determine your retention rate
First, look at your current retention rate. Your donor retention rate is the percentage of donors who give to your organization year-over-year. How do you calculate this?
(this year’s retained donors / last year’s retained donors) X 100 = retention rate
Or you can let Mightycause do the math for you! If you’ve received donations through the Mightcause platform you can download a Retention Report with all the details you need. Dig in to learn your strengths and your weaknesses.
Decide on retention goals
Second, get to know your retention data so you to create reasonable goals.
Your goals might be to reach:
- A certain percentage of retained donors
- A certain percentage of your budget from retained donors
- A certain percentage of monthly donors
Once you have your goals on paper be realistic about what it will take to reach those goals. Work with your team to develop a plan within your fundraising strategy.
Donor Retention Strategy #2: Building Donor Trust
Retaining donors is about building relationships. And relationships are built on trust. Therefore, it’s your job to be intentional and preemptive about building trust.
Appropriation accountability asks the question: Are funds being spent on your mission in cost-effective ways? You can boil this down to two things:
- Are you spending your funds on the mission you promote?
- Are you spending those funds wisely?
Take a moment to put yourself in your donors’ shoes. They don’t see the inner workings of your organization. Instead, they see news stories of organizations and fundraisers using donations for personal gain or on elaborate unnecessary spending.
In reality, we all need to be on guard against fraud. Which means you need to show your supporters that their gifts are being spent on the mission and spent in cost-effective ways.
It’s easy to wait until the end of your fiscal year to put out a financial report and call that transparency. While it is transparent, is it enough to keep and build your donors trust?
Sometimes we think transparency is only about the budget. And although it’s important to be transparent about your funding, transparency includes:
- Organization methods
- Operating principles
Now, don’t be scared of transparency. Donors aren’t looking for dirty laundry; they’re looking for honesty. So be confident in your methods and the values that guide your decision-making. You don’t need to go into fine detail on any of these topics but be upfront about how you’re operating and why.
Strengthen your partnership
As you share information throughout the year you’re creating a partnership with your supporters. And the more donors see themselves as partners the more likely they are to stick with you through the highs and lows.
This means, when you’re updating technology, creating new positions, or restructuring your team- tell your supporters. Include update sections in your newsletters and on your website to share how these changes are going to make your nonprofit more impactful in your community.
And if things are tough, share that too. Donors live in the real world. They know things aren’t always rosy; so don’t pretend like they are.
Keep in mind, the greater the size and frequency of donations, the more a donor is investing in you and the more the donor is associating with your reputation. In light of this, the less superficial and the more real you can be, the more you’re building trust and retention.
Donor Retention Strategy #3: Increase Knowledge
Understanding the multiple facets of your organization and knowing the impact you are making will strengthen your donors’ desire to see you funded and flourishing.
For instance, let’s say your organization provides an after-school program for high schoolers. People may be under the false impression that all you do is provide a safe gathering place for youth after school.
But if people knew that you are also providing free tutoring, coaching for sports and music, and training on basic life skills such as handling money, cooking, and navigating technology, well now your donors have a ton more reasons to support you.
The more people know about what you do, then the more invested they become. As a result, this creates retained donors.
Make Learning interesting and fun
Remember, no matter how long someone has been donating, there is always something more to learn or something to be reminded of.
- Present real-life stories to display different aspects of your nonprofit.
- Incorporate a “Did You Know” section on your website and in all your outreach material.
- Post quizzes in newsletters or on social media.
- Host a trivia game at your in-person invents.
A good education starts early
First things first, you want to begin teaching your donors as soon as they make their first donation.
Education is particularly imperative for peer-to-peer fundraiser donations. If someone donates because their sister was hosting a fundraiser page, then chances are the donor has a limited understanding of what all you do. This is why your welcome series is so important for stewarding a new donor into becoming a retained donor.
Here are a few tips for welcoming and educating those new donors.
- Too much information is like drinking from a firehose. Provide information through an email journey. This means smaller chunks through a series of emails.
- Highlight the various ways you meet your mission and the motivations behind your methods.
- Let Mightycause help! Take advantage of our integrations with Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Salesforce, and hundreds of donor management apps. Donors can trigger your Welcome email journey by simply clicking “Donate.”
Donor Retention Strategy #4: Prioritizing Donor Satisfaction
Donor satisfaction creates loyalty. In turn, loyalty increases donation retention.
Even if donors completely agree with your mission and see your powerful outcomes, but perceive that you think donors are a dime a dozen, they’ll be happy to donate to someone who “needs the funds more than you do.”
Prove your donors are a priority
Donors understand that you can’t give one-on-one attention to each donor. On the other hand, they don’t want to feel they’ve been cast aside until the next time you host a fundraising campaign.
Consider how you want to be treated at a restaurant. The food may taste amazing, but poor customer service can be a dealbreaker. Most organizations want donors to feel like part of the nonprofit team. Yet, their procedures aren’t as donor friendly as they could be. Take a moment to chew on these donor interactions.
- Are your staff and volunteers trained, knowledgeable, helpful, and kind?
- Is it easy to ask questions about the organization?
- Is your website easy to use?
- Is it easy to get involved? Or is information too vague and hard to follow?
- Are your thank you messages, genuine or generic?
Review your donor interaction scenarios. Better yet, have an outsider walk through your website, check out your social media pages, or try to make a donation.
You can also ask your donors directly how you’re doing. A donor satisfaction survey once or twice a year provides you with insight and shows donors you care about their experience.
When donors receive something from you, you don’t want it to be generic and you certainly don’t want it to be inaccurate. On the contrary, you want to indicate that each donor and every gift is important and impactful.
This is done by segmenting your donors and your outreach. Your Mightcause downloadable donations reports are perfect for this. As you review your donor data you’ll see natural segments such as:
- Donation size & frequency
- Supported campaigns
- Designated funds
- Monthly gifts
If you want to go deeper, create custom questions listed within your checkout flow. You could ask:
- How would you like to be contacted?
- How did you hear about us?
- May we have your age?
- Are you interested in volunteering?
- Would you like to receive our monthly newsletter?
By including custom questions you’re receiving vital information about your donors and you can use this data to create more pointed segments.
Donor satisfaction tips
- Recurring monthly donors must always be treated as special!! Always! These donors are priceless! So treat them accordingly.
- Large donors should be contacted directly over the phone throughout the year. If you can meet face to face – that’s even better.
- Donations made to a specific campaign should always receive a follow-up with the status of the campaign. For example: If you were fundraising for new office equipment, send a follow-up with pictures and fun commentary of the staff using that office equipment.
- It isn’t as much extra work as you think. A lot of your information is going to be used for each segment. It’s just the nuances that you’re changing to give special attention to your donors. And the outcome of special attention is retention.
Donor Retention Strategy #5: Making it Easy for Donors Donate
More clicks means fewer donations; and fewer donations means lower donor retention. Making it easy to donate and learn about the organization seems like a no-brainer. Yet, it actually takes strategic and intentional planning.
Since you’re on the inside of your organization it’s easy to think that certain information is common knowledge. However, your supporters are only looking at you for a relatively brief time in their busy day. So what can you do to make it easy for your donors to donate and get to know you better?
Subscription services are everywhere. Why not use it for donations too?
Introduce and keep reminding your supporters about the recurring donation option. Highlight recurring donations in your newsletters and on social media. Consider hosting a campaign geared toward recurring donations.
Your online interactions are the perfect occasions to cultivate trust, impart knowledge, and fuel your donor satisfaction. Thus, it is essential that whatever is online is visually appealing and intuitive. This goes for your website and social media. One way to make giving easier is by placing “Donate” buttons throughout your website, not just on the “Donation” page.
Multiple ways to donate
If someone doesn’t donate, it shouldn’t be for lack of opportunity. It’s up to you to provide multiple ways to donate, such as:
- Text to give
- Hyperlinks in your emails
- QR codes
- “Donate” buttons
- A full donation form
- Social media sharing
Mighytcause offers all the donor engagement tools you need to make donating simple. Not only are our pages compatible with desktop and mobile devices, we also have social sharing options, text to give, customizable checkout flows, widgets, and forms.
Intentionality Retains Donors
To summarize, there is no magic trick to retaining donors. Yet, being intentional to build strong relationships with your donors and to keep your donors engaged with your organization does wonders.
Learning where you currently stand and setting goals for donor retention is your first step. Focusing on trust, knowledge, donor satisfaction, and making it easy to engage with and donate to your organization are the continual commitments that work together to steward your donors toward loyalty and retention.
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