Your fundraising plan – tips on donor retention

The basic idea around donor retention, and why I like it included in any fundraising plan, is that it is easier (and cheaper) to keep a current donor rather than try to find a new donor.

Of course we’re not talking about just one donor. We want to think about donor retention in a way of treating our donors that we have in a way that they will donate again. And again.

This post could go on and on about donor retention, and I’ll leave you with just a few ideas about what has worked for me.

First, I highly recommend a database for your donor data. There are many options, and I’m sure there is one to fit your capacity and budget. Having a database with your donor information allows you to track donations, notes, contacts, and anything involved with you and your organization building a relationship with your donors.

Next, thank your donors. When I first started in nonprofit fundraising, a phrase I heard often was “thank before you bank”. Super simple idea. These days, many nonprofits count their online auto-thank you letter as a thank you. I don’t. That’s an acknowledgement of a donation. Your donor knows you received their donation. You still want to take a step to thank them, either by letter, email, or phone call.

Find out why your donor gives. There are several types of donors, and there are also people who simply just make a donation, with no intent to really give again. An example of this is a neighbor you’ve asked to sponsor you ina 5K run for a cause. They are giving because of you, not the cause. If they give again, now you have a donor and perhaps it’s more than just you!

You also have the donor who just loves your mission. They think that what your nonprofit is doing is making the world a better place, or another way of putting it is that you’re creating a world that they envision. These are donors who are with you, and easy ones to build life-long relationships with, if you take the time to do that.

Another idea that works for donor retention is to be transparent with your donors. That means sharing the good, the not so good, and the difficult. Donors don’t always need to know how awesome you’re doing or that all you have are successes. They definitely want to know your challenges as well, along with what gets in the way of your organization being able to have the most impact. Share it all with them. Whether it’s in a newsletter, a personal email, or over lunch, keep your donors in the loop.

My last idea for now is to share your impact. As a donor, I want to know that my giving makes a difference. Your donors are the same. Let them know what you’re doing with the funds you raise and what impact that has. Even if you try something and fall short, share it. Your impact changes things, things your donors want to see changed.

There you go! Try these! I’d love to hear about how you implement them.

Thank you for reading!

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