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The Secret to Better Donor Retention

Make sure donors feel welcome right away. That’s it! That’s the secret!

Now all you’ve got to do is Do It!

In 2016, the overall donor retention rate was 45%. That means that more than ½ of donors who made gifts in 2015 did not do so in 2016.

For new donors, the rate is even lower.

Why donors leave can be as simple as death, moving out-of-state, a change in personal finances, new giving priorities or more complicated reasons like not feeling the love from your organization, not understanding the difference they’re gift is having, poor communications, a feeling of not being needed, or forgetting that they were donors to you organization.

These “reasons” are bad news for you because they’re within your control. The good news is that with a little communicating they can be solved.

You should start trying to retain your donorsas soon as gift #1 is made and, ideally, never stop.

How a Welcome Email Series Can Help You Retain Donors

Emails that are simple but compelling are what you should be shooting for. The goal is to make the donor want to keep engaging with you. Keep it short and interesting—and filled with gratitude.

Here’s a checklist:

  • An engaging subject line

  • Warm, donor-centered language

  • A clear, single call-to-action

  • A story to inspire the donor as to his/her impact

And remember, a welcome email series ia a communication stream for new donors. As soon as they make a gift, this communication stream should begin. They should consist of a few emails that donors receive before you fold them into your regular donor communications. Think of it like an extended communication.

  • The first email thanks the new donors for the gift (within 48-72 hours), welcomes them for the gift, thanks them, and demonstrates the impact the gift will have (ideally with a story).

  • The next email, sent a few weeks later, gives the donor the opportunity to know you better, and more fully engage with you. Relevant, interesting information about what the gift is making possible should be shared. Show some pictures. Ask your donor a question or engage via social media.

  • After 8-12 weeks, a 3rd email should be sent . Research has shown that new donors when asked are then “primed” to make another gift.

Have you had success on the email side of donor retention? Please share with us.

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