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Improve Your Donor Retention With These 5 Tips

It's no secret that the higher a nonprofit's donor retention is, the more successful the organization is overall. As with any business, retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring one. You've heard that "customer service is the new marketing." That can mean something as simple as keeping your donors informed of where their dollars are spent within nonprofits. Sure, building rapport and developing long-term relationships is vital, but what impact have they made.

At GIG, we know that stewarding your donors is essential to the donor journey and ensures long-term retention. Bringing you thousands of new donors is what we do, but it means nothing if they don't stay. While the average donor retention should be around 40%-45%, statistics show that the reality of donor retention is more like 25% across the nonprofit sector. At GIG, our clients enjoy an M18 donor retention rate of 78% on average. If you're hovering around the 25% range and want to increase your donor retention to the 40% or even 60% mark, try these five easy and practical tips we tell our clients all the time!

1. Make sure you Define your Target Audience

The goal is to get as many donors as possible, so it's best to target everyone in theory, but here's the secret: targeting everyone gets no one! Broad targeting doesn't work because you're not speaking to anyone specifically. You're talking to the masses, a group lacking a unified value, belief, and spirit. Therefore nobody will resonate with your brand's message the way you want them to. When coming up with your target audience, ask yourself and your team to define who they are. How old are they? What do they typically care about when they wake up? What do they believe in? What do they value? What are they afraid of? The more specific your questions are, the more you will be able to cater your message to your target audience's language.

2. Tell the Story

Your donors want to know how they are making an impact with the support they are giving. Whether they are giving smaller amounts monthly or a significant gift annually, how is that used? Who was impacted? What lives were changed? What programs were implemented? What part of your mission did they influence? They want to know how they helped, and they want to know often. Set up monthly or quarterly emails or newsletters that tell one story. Be sure to cater your message to the specific target audience you defined. When a donor understands the impact, they are making, and they are less likely to cancel their support.

3. Don't Be Afraid to be Loud About Your Beliefs.

Donors are more interested in what you believe and stand for, so they can decide if they support that belief. It's unfortunate, but people are afraid of making noise and standing out because of the toxic cancel culture. Our advice - Don't be! As an NPO, your belief and values are what inspires donors to give and passionately support your mission. Standing firm on your brand's mission and incorporating it into every aspect of your work will boost awareness and create loyalty with your target audience.

4. Stay in Contact and Thank Them

While telling a story is essential for donors to understand how they are helping make a difference, thanking them, sending an email, or making a call is equally as important. You can have a staff member spend a few hours one day a month to select 5-10 donors and give them a call, or better yet, contact us, and we will make the call for you! You don't need to attempt to call every new monthly donor within a specific time. Still, by defining certain milestones and sending an email or making a call to a donor at that time, you have connected one on one to let them know how vital their support is. The milestones can be simple, like their three-month anniversary of giving or their sixth month, but taking the time to send a note or make a call creates a connection they will never forget. Setting a marketing campaign based on an anniversary date doesn't take weeks of work or thousands of hours of IT development. You probably already have the "anniversary thank you" written - take 10 minutes to schedule it. You'll see instant success in your donor retention and incremental improvement for months and years to come.

5. Don't forget to Analyze!

After implementing any suggestions, especially when you try a new campaign, the most important thing you do, and unfortunately many NPOs forget, is to analyze all your results! What worked and what didn't? Which portions did donors respond to the most through impressions and clicks? Were calls more impactful than emails? Did any monthly supports increase their donation or add a one-time gift? Did any respond and send a note back? From last year to this month, did your retention improve? And quantify and annualize those results. If you had ten donors cancel the previous year and only three this year, seven donors stayed. If they give $25 monthly, that's $2,100 a year. If that happens every month for the next 12, that is $25,200! When you take the time to work through the metrics and understand the data, your ability to retain donors with better campaigns, storytelling, and messaging will generate long-term value for your organization.

At GIG, we know that bringing new donors is vital for our clients. Yet our clients choose us because we recognize that keeping donors is equally important. The lasting impression we leave when inspiring an average person to become a donor is positive and memorable, but those 10 minutes only go so far.

Contact us today to create an impactful donor journey and stewarding roadmap that increases your donor acquisition and boosts your donor retention!

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