Four Quick Tips for Increasing Donor Retention Rates

According to the 2014 Giving USA report, 72% of charitable giving in the United States comes from small individual donors, yet a study published in March of 2013 by Target Analytics shows that the overall retention rate for small first year individual donors stands at a mere 27.3%.

Roger Craver of Donor Trends reports that the number of nonprofit organizations between 2000 and 2010 has increased by 47% to a total of 1,056,000 organizations. Now, there are more organizations competing for revenue, and in the middle of this chase all of the organizations are losing more and more donors. Not a bright picture.

The good news is that every institution has the ability to implement strategies to increase retention rates, because loyal donors are made through the marketing and communication efforts of institutions, they don’t just spring up overnight.

Here are four ideas to help you improve donor retention. 

1. Stewardship is an important part of donor retention. Sending out personalized, relevant messages on note cards thanking donors for their contributions and letting them know how their contribution was put to use is important. Check out Jeff Schriefels and Richard Perry’s blog post entitled “5 Ways to Report Back to Donors on Their Gifts’ Impact” here

2. Pick up the phone and call your donors. A personal call can mean a lot to your donors, especially if they feel like they have been neglected by your institution. Talk to them and ask what they care about. If you send out a survey periodically and donors haven’t responded to your questions, get their responses while you are talking to them on the phone. Check out Tina Cincotti’s blog post entitled “Donor Thank You Calls; everything you need to know.” It even has some scripts you can use. Check it out here

3. Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your donor base. Whether it is an email or a paper newsletter, you should think of your newsletter as another chance to communicate with your donor audience. Your relationship with your donors requires nurturing, and newsletters are one way to keep donors engaged and supportive of your mission. In a review of Deborah Kaplan Polivy’s new book entitled “Donor Cultivation and The Donor Lifecycle Map," Deborah expounds on the use of donor cultivation tools. The NonProfit Times addresses the key points of Polivy’s new book. Here is the blog post.

4. Use Cross Media Marketing and Integrated Marketing Communications when you communicate with donors during a fundraising campaign. Make sure you have the right application so you can use personalized microsites. Kim Gross of Pacesetter Enterprises has revealed some relevant insights on donor retention:

  • Integrate relevant video to outbound solicitations
  • Use personalized microsites which can speed up the engagement and giving process
  • Done the right way, Cross Media
  • Marketing allows institutions to track donor behavior to help determine donor motivation
  • Cross Media Marketing can improve response rates by 35% over single channel print only campaigns* Cross Media Marketing can also lift conversion rates by as much as 17%*