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Want Better Retention? Celebrate the Donor more than the Gift

By now, you know that retention rates for donors is bad. For 1st-time donors it’s horrible.

How do you celebrate new donors? What are you doing to create loyalty?

Retention is key to fundraising success because donors who are inspired to stay with you increase their giving over time. In so doing, a non-profit’s need to constantly be in acquisition mode (more expensive than retention) is lessened quite a bit.

If you’re losing new donors at an alarming rate, we’ve got some solutions to help you keep them around:

Timely Thanks

Problem: You just can’t seem to get your acknowledgements out in a timely (3-5 days) manner.

Solution: Don’t just send a tax receipt. Make the acknowledgement memorable by listing the ways the donor can get involved, mentioning a few organizational opportunities coming up, and/or quotes and pictures of the population your organization serves.

Meaningful Communication

Problem: You think your job is over when you send the acknowledgement! The acknowledgement may seem to be the last step in a process, but it’s really the first very important step in getting a 2nd gift from your new supporter.

Solution: Add a tailored element of stewardship. For example, if the first gift was designated to a particular fund or program, ask that program’s director to write a letter telling the donor how the program is going and what’s going to be happening in the coming months. Also, ask if the donor would like a tour. This should be done at around 6-8 weeks after receipt of the first gift.

Articulate Impact

Problem: Like many non-profits, are you good at talking about your activities and accomplishments; i.e., galas, giving circles, bequests?

Solution: After properly thanking your donors (and not before), tell donors how you’re using their support to make important change.

Problem: You don’t thank them, communicate with them, or try to deepen your relationship with them before you send a 2nd request for more support.

Solution: Only after having been properly thanked, communicated with, and invited into a deeper relationship should you try to get a 2nd gift.

Remember, the first gift means very little if you fail to retain these donors. In most cases, if you honor and treat them with respect, not only will they continue to financially support your organization, they’ll engage further by coming to events, talking about your mission in the community, introducing others to your organization,

and so much more. We like to call them more than just donors…partners!!

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