How Do You Keep Your Donors Giving?
Smart nonprofit fundraisers know we need to work on keeping our donors. We know why donor retention is more important than donor acquisition. You may have heard the depressing news that nonprofits often lose more donors than we gain.
But how do we actually go about retaining our donors in the real world? What does that mean on a practical level?
The general answer you’ve likely heard before is, “through better ‘donor-centered communications'” or “by building relationships with your donors.”
This is certainly true, but before you can produce better communications and build strong relationships you have some work to do.
Here’s what you need to do to keep your donors connected and supporting your organization:
Step 1: Determine your retention rates
In order to improve donor retention, you’ll need to be able to measure it. Do you know how many donors from last year gave again this year? Did your retention increase or decrease from the year before? How do you even start if you’ve never thought about it before?
Step 2: Know who your donors are (aka Segmenting!)
Who are the people in your (donor) neighborhood? Why are they giving to you? Who is most likely to give again? What do they want from you?
Step 3: Prioritize the donors who deserve special attention
Determine who your best, most loyal donors are and focus your resources on these people.
Step 4: Create a targeted donor cultivation plan
You’ll need a thoughtful, proactive plan to communicate and engage with your donors, that fits your budget and targets your priority segments.
Step 5: Develop a budget that supports your plan Steps 3-5 are a cyclical process of developing a cultivation/ communications plan that works within your budget while also manipulating your budget in a way that supports your activities.
Step 6: Produce terrific donor communications Tell inspiring stories of what your donors accomplished through their gifts to your organization. Talk to them in a personal, meaningful way and make them feel like an important part of your organization – which of course, they are.
Step 7: Track and measure your results For every activity you do, you’ll want to evaluate and document its success. Every appeal needs to be measured in terms of response rate, dollars brought in, etc… You need documentation for every e-mail newsletter that tells you the open rate, click throughs and resulting contributions. Need some help measuring results?
Step 8: Evaluate your tools and skills
Do you have the tools and resources you need to get the job done? Do you have a “good enough” database? Email marketing program? Do you need training on writing donor communications? Do you have a graphic designer that understands fundraising?