Engage and Retain: How engaging donors increases donations

As nearly every report highlighting the health of America’s nonprofits has shown, donor retention is hugely lacking. In fact, most donors – up to 50 percent – do not give a repeat gift following their first gift.

According to Adrian Sargeant, former fundraising academic and executive director at the Plymouth Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy and now founder of the Philanthropy Centre found that a 10 percent improvement in attrition can generate up to a 200 percent increase in the lifetime value of a nonprofit’s donor base. Just 10 percent – sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, retaining donors is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s nonprofits. But a strong donor engagement strategy can help you keep first-time donors and make them into committed repeat donors. Here are some ways to keep them engaged and coming back to donate in the future:

  • Don’t just ask for money. Of course, you should also ask for donations, but make sure to give them a call for other reasons. Call them on their birthdays, to thank them for a donation, to give them an update on a project or campaign or to give them the low-down on new member benefits.
  • Note when your donors prefer that you reach out to them and how you reach out to them. Don’t consistently call during business hours if you know they work full-time. Avoid dinnertime if you know they have a family. And if they’ve specified that they prefer you reach out via email, make sure to respect that and avoid calling. Reaching your donors when they want and how they want will help you engage with them in a more personal way.
  • Get them involved in your storytelling efforts. Ask your donors to share their giving story. You might be surprised about the reasons your donors gave, and it could encourage others to give in response.

Engaging your donors personally is one of the key aspects of increasing donor retention and making one-time donors into long-term donors!