Donor Retention: Structure Your Fundraising Operation for Success

By: Postalgia

June 15, 2022

What requires more effort, acquiring new donors or retaining the existing ones?

Most nonprofits are likely to answer that acquiring new donors requires significantly more work, but that doesn’t mean retaining donors is an easy task. Still, maintaining a high donor retention rate is absolutely crucial.

Nonprofits with a high donor retention rate have long-term supporters who come back year after year. Nonprofits with a low donor retention rate need to continually acquire new donors, ultimately costing them more time, money, and effort in the long run.

This article will discuss how to structure your fundraising operation for successful donor retention.

 

Challenges Nonprofits Face With Donor Retention Today

Sadly, the outcome of neglecting your donor retention efforts is one that most nonprofits wouldn’t willingly face if they had the choice. If you don’t worry about donor retention, you’ll risk losing donors.

The rate at which donors are lost is referred to as the “attrition rate,” which can significantly impact the number of donors in your donor database from year to year.

The other red flag nonprofits need to be aware of is what happens when donors stop contributing. If donors stop giving, there is a very small chance they will ever give again.

Don’t overlook this concern. Instead, always assume that if a first-time donor didn’t contribute the second time around that, it’s highly unlikely they will come back because that’s what the data shows.

 

3 Elements of a Strong Donor Retention Strategy

You’ll be happy to know that building a donor retention strategy doesn’t require much investment, even relative to most nonprofits’ notoriously strict budgets. Here are three key elements to implement for building strong donor retention.

 

 1. Rely Heavily on Proven Data
Why is it important to have good data? Data helps you identify where to focus your efforts for the largest impact. Using data will also allow you to track your retention and attrition rates, ensuring your donor retention strategy is as effective as you are hoping it will be.
To become an effective donor manager, donor management software is integral to your nonprofit.

 

2. Put a Special Focus on First Time Donors 
It’s crucial to retain donors from the beginning of their relationship with your organization. Data shows that if they don’t contribute at the next opportunity after their first donation, statistically, they are not likely to donate again.
Knowing this information, it’s important to make a special effort to get the first-time donors to give a second time. Find creative ways that speak true to your nonprofit and its mission.

 

3. Choose Tactics You Can Execute Well On
There are hundreds of guides and lists of things you can do for donor retention. Try not to get lost in the shuffle of trying to tackle all of them at once. Instead, choose a select few and  execute those in a fashion that will stand out.

What you should NOT do is go through the motions so that you can check them off your list.

Some popular donor retention tactics include:

  • Thank donors quickly
  • Segment communications
  • Update on outcomes
  • Create a personal touch via phone calls and handwritten notes
  • Survey donors
  • Offer recurring gift options

Conclusion

The best ways to increase donor retention are linked to your nonprofit’s relationship with each donor. Getting to know your donors, what they like, and what you can do to maintain your relationship with them are critical components of donor retention.

Postalgia can help you focus on deepening your donor relationship by sending written thank you cards. The services Postalgia offers include design, copywriting, list hygiene, mail preparation, as well as the full suite of direct mail production services and much, much more!