We love nonprofits and we admire their dedication to their individual missions and the impact they make on their communities and on the world. However, we also recognize that the nonprofit sector is losing money and donors year-over-year.
Donor retention rates are especially low. According to a study by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), every $100 raised from new donors is offset by $100 in losses due to donor attrition. This means that, while new donors may be coming in, they’re not staying and giving repeat gifts. New donors are great and it’s absolutely worth the effort to reach out to them, but GuideStar found that nonprofits have a 60-70 percent chance of getting additional gifts from existing donors, compared to a 20-40 percent chance of getting additional gifts from recently lapsed donors and less than a two percent chance of getting a gift from a prospective donor.
So, while building new relationships is important, nurturing relationships with existing donors is critical. But lucky for you, holding onto your donors is as simple as saying thank you, being consistent with your messaging to donors, and being trustworthy.
Say “thank you”: Yes, it really is that easy. Whether it’s an email, a phone call or a handwritten note (we highly recommend these), it’s vital to thank donors for their donations – big or small – and to thank them personally. In fact, GuideStar research has found that around 60 percent of nonprofits thank their donors impersonally, slowly or not at all. Not cool. It’s been proven that donors will be more inclined to give again in the future if they receive a personal thank-you for their gift.
Be consistent: Message regularly, but not annoyingly. Making sure to keep your existing donors updated about the status of projects and fundraisers, the result of their gifts and other awesome stuff that your nonprofit is doing will help them feel less like just a donation and more like a member of your organization. If donors don’t hear back from you, especially after they give a donation or attend an event, they’re likely to leave.
Be trustworthy: Treat every donor like they’re a top donor. It may seem obvious, but maintaining common courtesy and avoiding being short or rude is essential. Even if a donor is calling for something seemingly menial – like a change of address or a simple question – making them feel like their call or inquiry is important will let them know that you are on their side. Being honest and transparent about projects, like showing progress and updating donors, also helps them realize that you are a trusted resource and their donations are going to a good cause and being used for good.
What simple steps is your nonprofit taking to keep donors coming back? Are you consistently thanking your donors and making sure to keep your communications and messaging consistent? Share them with us in the comments below!