If you have been in the fundraising arena and have been interested in how non-profits develop, then you might have come across the term ‘donor retention’. When it comes to data analysis donor retention is one of the most important topics that are studied. To be said in very simple words donor retention is the measure of how many donors will continue to support your organization in future. Any charity that has a high number of donor retention will survive for a real long time with its sustained supporter group. But for a charity with low donor retention number will have to continuously reach out to more potential donors every year and keep requesting for larger donations to be able to sustain.
With the recent imbalance in the world economy, lots of non-profits are starting to turn their attention from acquiring to retaining donor support. The primary reason for that is that each year with increasing donor number it is harder and more expensive to attract new ones. If a donor donates only once then your original investment to attract that donor will turn into a loss. Only by retaining his/her support for years the organization can make sure progress. Non-profits now need to focus on maintaining their existing support rather than discarding them in search for new ones.
Acquiring donors might be the core of every charity’s growth strategy. But if three out of the four donors you acquire leave after just one donation then you might suffer loss. To know more about why donor retention is so important you should refer to Blackbaud’s charitable report.
The Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report 2016 states that:-
·The average donor retention rates for first-year offline-only donors is 29%
·The average donor retention rates for first-year online-only donors is 21%
If the donor retention rates fall even below 20% then it might not look good for major fundraisers which depend mostly on the donation from the public. On top of that if you add the cost of acquiring new donors it will become real taxing for the fundraiser staff and hinder the organization’s growth.
Frankly, it is up to your marketing team and core staff to create a more robust gratitude program so that the donors will come back again to donate. Investing your resources on a donor acknowledgment and stewardship program might help in turning the tables for you.
Here are some of the tips you can implement to improve your donor retention program:-
1. Instantaneous gratitude: You have to thank you, donors, in the fastest way you can. If you don’t act promptly you might end up destroying most of your hard work. In a study board members of a non-profit called their generous donor to thank them. It was observed that the people who received phone call gave more at the next fundraiser than the people who weren’t called.
2. Considerate: Just giving out receipts for their donation won’t help in showing your gratitude towards the donors. Personalized cards and thank you notes can go a long way in establishing your relationship with your supporter while reminding them how important they are to the organization.
3. Non-donation activities: Once in while you can hold complimentary events that do not involve any money. Offer your supporters to engage in a fun a non-formal activity and treat them for their continued support. With an interesting schedule for the year which includes activities other than fundraiser will keep the donors interested in the organization and keep supporting it.
4. You can also think of giving out gifts. You don’t have to go out of the way and spend too much on the gifts. Small and thought full gifts can still make a large impact on donor’s sentiments.
5. Online gratitude: E-mails and text messages are one the fastest way to communicate. Utilize these mediums to your advantage. Send them a thank you email every time they make an online donation. You can also configure your donation website to implement an online and also offline welcome and gratitude pages.
6. For your, every activity throughout the year imposes stewardship component to enable your nonprofit to inherently be more courteous and grateful. There is always a reason and excuse to say thank you to your supporters.
7. Indulge in talking about your activities and special moments. Stories of your mission will motivate people to get involved and become a part of your story. You can create short videos or post on social networks or a blog and get your stories out there to help people find you. Also, it will keep your current supporter group also intact as they see their donation materialize into something positive.
8. Another useful tip would be to ditch the report book. It might be mandatory for profit organizations to keep their investors and shareholders informed about the financial activities of the company throughout the year. But for a non-profit, there are more interesting ways to keep the donors well-informed and in an interesting way. So you can ditch the annual report book and think of new ways to entice people to stay attached to your organization. For an example, an info graphics on the basic financial structure will more likely to be admired and remembered by anyone.
9. Also even with everything in place you still have to go out of the way and thank your donors each and every time it is possible for you. To have a lasting impression of gratitude, a repeated show of gratitude can help solidify that impression.
10. In the end always plan way ahead of these strategies. Your plan on how and when to send out thank you note should be prepared hand in hand with other activities.
Donor retention strategies are becoming more and more difficult these days owing to fact that the old supporters are losing interest now and with decreasing donors budget for acquiring new donors also decreases. Thus it is of utmost importance to pay attention to retaining and keeping your existing donor community and ask them to keep supporting you. Maybe you are not one of those organizations who need to worry about donor retention at this moment of time. But with continued ignorance to their invested interest, it can lead to donor pool evaporating. So pay attention to keeping your current support group happy so they keep giving year after year.