by Lomesh Shah, CEO of NonProfitEasy
Your nonprofit’s supporters help with everything from advocacy
to donations, making them essential for maintaining high success
rates for mission-oriented projects.
So how do you maximize donor retention?
Start with prioritizing donor engagement.
Use available technology to its fullest extent in
order to retain your donors by maintaining high engagement
Focus your engagement efforts not just on gaining but also
retaining more donors.
More highly engaged donors will result in more reliable future
donations for your organization’s next big project.
We’ve compiled 3 online donor retention tips that your
nonprofit can use to maintain your all-important engagement levels.
These tips include:
1) Save donor information in your CRM.
2) Maintain high levels of communication with donors.
3) Keep your donors involved with various campaigns.
Let’s dive into the first strategy for maintaining your donor
1. Streamline Donor Information into Your CRM
You already know that the gifts your donors give to your
organization is incredibly important.
But did you know you might be missing out if you’re not saving
the other other vital information that they submit along with this
When your donors give to your organization, they probably fill
out a handful of questions before hitting the final “submit”
button to give.
This information includes data such as the donor’s name, age,
gender, address, etc.
This donor data can help you with future communications and
appeals to engage these donors again.
Store your donor information in your nonprofit’s CRM
Each donor’s profile is buildable and customizable so that
when you get new information about them, or their old information
changes, you can ensure your data is up-to-date.
Look for a CRM that is paired with fundraising campaigns you
often host. For instance, if your organization relies heavily on
crowdfunding, you may consider a crowdfunding platform which also
has a CRM software.
Check out Fundly’s
CRM guide to read more about how this works.
Integrating your storage information with your fundraising
software can help your organization to:
- Streamline your data storage processes. Integrated tech means
you have less manual work to do in order to save and update donor
- Triggers automatic “thank you” emails in return for gifts.
This can be done directly through your CRM technology to help build
positive relationships with donors.
- Open up your fundraising appeals to a wider audience. Easing
the process of data storage means your organization can focus its
manpower on creating new marketing techniques to recruit more
Once you’ve collected the donor data from your fundraising
software platforms, your organization can use the information to
better communicate with donors.
Use it to create more personal appeals to donors through your
For instance, you may choose to reach out to donors eligible for
matching gifts through your emails; or maybe you’ll highlight
major donors on your social media pages.
We’ll talk more about maximizing donor communications in the
2. Maintain High Levels of Communication with
Another way to think about retaining donors and increasing
engagement levels is that you are building a relationship with your
Just like any relationship, you need to engage in active
communication strategies to build rapport.
The communication strategies you need to worry about are those
to recruit donors before they reach the donation page, convince
donors to complete the donation process on the fundraising page,
and continue the conversation post donation.
Communication to Recruit Donors
In order to retain donors, you need strong recruitment
strategies to begin with. Be sure you set the conversation off on
the right foot with effective donor recruitment.
Send descriptive emails or fundraising
letters to prospects telling them about your
You should guide them using effective language strategies
from the initial point of contact until the donation is
Take crowdfunding as an example.
Send out informative messages about the crowdfunding campaign
through your letters, emails, social media, and other cold outreach
Tell them exactly what the campaign will fund, how it will
affect the community, and where supporters can donate.
Communication During the Donation Process
Once prospective donors follow the link from your recruitment
outreach, they will come to your fundraising page.
This fundraising page is where you should convince donors to
complete the donation process.
Use descriptive language to include a short description of your
campaign and mission.
For instance, for your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll want to
your organization’s story in your crowdfunding
This description shouldn’t be too long, but it should include
your mission and campaign goals.
Try to keep it between 300 and 700 words.
To convince donors to complete their donation, you should
frame your description around the future.
You can focus on the future of your organization’s
projects, future donations, or immediate next steps.
Each of these strategies are explained further in the following
Future projects: Write a description of the exact
project that the fundraising campaign will help fund. Let’s just
say you have a crowdfunding campaign set up to help your
organization buy new textbooks for a school. Use
storytelling techniques to emphasize the need for the project
and tell donors how they can follow your success.
Future donations: Your online donation form should be
customizable to include a recurring donation button. This button
makes it easy for your donors to give to your organization on a
regular basis without traveling to the donation page every time.
This is a great tool to use while fundraising for your annual fund
because it is an ongoing effort.
Immediate next steps: Directly after the donation has
been completed by your supporter, give them an immediate next step
to follow through that will help then continue their engagement.
For instance, after the donation is accepted, include a link to
your social media page so that they can follow your
Including effective communication during the donation process is
incredibly important. This method opens up the lines for future
communication or engagement.
After a gift is completed by your generous donor, your job
isn’t done. Keep the conversation going even after the
Make sure to send a follow up “thank you” message to your
donors to show your appreciation for their gift.
Then, open up the conversation for future contact with the
Let them know about the projects you are completing in the next
few months or years.
This may be through individual or mass emails, or as a part of
your regular email newsletter.
Finally, remember to send your annual report to donors at the
end of the year.
Tell them about all the incredible things you’ve accomplished
and how their donation helped you achieve it.
3. Keep Donors Involved with Various Campaigns
Different methods of giving are more appropriate for different
types of fundraising efforts and different campaigns.
Knowing what tool to pair with what campaign, or what tool
best appeals to which donors, can drastically improve your donor
Start by considering the online giving processes you can make
available to your donors.
Launch this research with Qgiv’s
list of top online donation tools, then consider what
offerings might be missing from your organization’s toolbox.
This toolbox will help prepare your organization for any
campaign you may decide to launch.
Some of the donation methods you might run across in your
Crowdfunding is a great fundraising technique for a specific event
or cause. Make sure you have a specific goal you’re trying to
reach in your crowdfunding campaign. This is an incredibly easy
fundraising technique for both you and your donors, making it an
accessible for a wide audience.
Peer-to-peer fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising
empowers your supporters to create a fundraising page for your
organization to spread among their online network. This outreach is
very effective on social media platforms, meaning younger audiences
thrive when using this fundraising strategy.
Text-to-give. Text-to-give technology makes it easy for
donors to text in their donation amount to a preset number provided
by your service provider. This is a great service for churches who
want to expand their tithing options, event hosts to announce a
method of mobile giving to guests, and as a part of your email
outreach because so many people check their email from their
Online auctions. If your organization hosts auctions
already, you’ll find it even more effective to move those
auctions online. This makes it easy for everyone to bid, whether
they attend the auction event or not. Plus, enabling donors to
watch their desired auction onlines helps them to bid more
frequently, maximizing donation amounts.
In addition to using the right fundraising tool for each
campaign, be sure you are reaching out to your audience in a
variety of methods to keep them involved.
You might include general information about your donation page
on your everyday emails and website homepage; however, specific
campaigns may be more effectively marketed through your
social media pages.
No matter how you promote your fundraising, be sure to appeal to
a specific audience of people and keep everyone involved with
multiple efforts from your organization.
If they see that one campaign is to help build a new community
center, but another is to help buy computers for the library within
the center, the donor is more likely to want to help with both
Recruiting donors is only the first step to your fundraising
While it’s important to get your communication strategies off
on the right foot, be sure you’re also taking the extra step to
retain the donors you do reach out to.
Recurring donations from the same donors helps reduce your cold
outreach necessities, and helps to grow your organization’s
Armed with these 3 tips, you’re ready to get out there and
retain more of your donors!
About the author: Lomesh has over 25 years of experience in
international corporate leadership with a strong emphasis on
marketing technology and data management systems. Lomesh has worked
with small to mid-size businesses, privately-held companies and
Fortune 500 corporations in various capacities; from sales and
marketing to overseeing automation and re-engineering of processes
Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry
both as an industry leader, speaker, and in service to several
organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the
industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone
willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything
from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind
3 Online Donor Retention Tips That Everyone Should Know
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3 Online Donor Retention Tips That Everyone Should Know