You just had a successful Giving Day – now what? If the words donor retention popped to mind, then you are ahead of the game. However, if you don’t have a plan in place to retain or get-to-know your donors, then keep reading. We have some tips to help you build those long-term relationships with your newly acquired donors.
Retention = Relationship
Industry research shows the average nonprofit organization in the US will lose 70% of donors after the first gift. Donor retention is a measure of how many donors give to your organization and the higher your retention rate, the more long-term supporters you have that are willing to come back year over year.
It’s common knowledge in the for-profit world that it costs much more to secure a new customer than to retain repeat customers. One-time transactions don’t get you very far, and ultimately cost you more time and money. So why are retention efforts and strategies typically absent in most nonprofit organizations?
Think of your strategy as less work and more relationship building. In this scenario, retention means the same as relationship. The more you know about them and have consistent contact with a donor, the stronger the relationship.
Build a Lasting Bond
As soon as the donation was processed, you thanked your donor and provided a standard receipt. But did you follow up after that? Did you personalize that thank you message?
Instead of an email that states, “Thank you for your $100 donation…” Try something like, “Five kids will receive lunch for a year thanks to your generous support.” Personalize the message and relate the content to your mission. The reason this person is donating is because they care about what you are doing. Share how they are making an impact.
A handwritten letter goes a long way – and is a great follow-up to a donation receipt. But instead of a board member or staff member sending it, try to get an individual positively impacted by your organization to send a personal note. Does your organization send kids to camp? Or help with reading skills? A postcard hand-written by someone directly receiving funds will make a favorable impression on your new donor and deepen their bond with the organization.
Your organization should have an annual communication plan that includes a minimum of 12 touches to donors throughout the year. And not just “asks” for money. Continue to educate and share with your new donor how their support is impacting the organization. Exchanging information about a common cause that excites you both is the base of a meaningful, long-lasting relationship.
When someone donates or makes a gift to your organization, view it as a personal interaction, not just a business transaction. Be authentic in your communication. Be true to your organization and genuine in the information you are sharing. Let them know how much your gift impacted a particular program, invite them via a personal note to an upcoming event or gala, and continue to keep them informed of the strides your organization achieves year round.
The most important thing to do when welcoming new donors to your organization is get to know them as individuals. How do they like to be communicated with? Why are they supporting your organization, what level of interest do they have within your organization? The more consistent and individual the communication efforts are with your new donor, the stronger and longer the relationship will be. And strong relationships will automatically yield donor retention.