One of the areas that many of us need to focus on this next year is:

How do we retain more donors?

Donor attrition is a major issue for non-profits, as there, quite frankly, aren’t enough resources for us to go out and acquire new donors all the time. Donor attrition is the percentage of donors who quit giving who gave previously.

We need to find ways that we can excite our current donors, to motivate them to the cause, and to want to continue to support the good work that our organizations are doing.

1. Demonstrate gratitude immediately after the donation

Find ways to demonstrate your thanks and your gratitude to a donor. It goes beyond a simple receipt email that you send out or a thank you page on your website. You need to find other ways that you can say thank you to donors. These might be personalized videos that you can send out to donors or a note card written by volunteers or your board members that you send out thanking donors for that give.

A Lexus dealership is one of the best examples of how they treat customers. My wife, through her business, receives a free Lexus lease. The last time we leased the Lexus, we found one that we liked online and I sent a note into the dealership to inquire about availability of this particular car. The sales person didn’t just respond back and say, “Yes that car’s available,” he actually went out and recorded a personalized video of the car. He showed all of the features of this car that allowed me to virtually experience the car before I came to the lot.

After we leased the car, we received a thank you gift from the salesman, a thank you card, and a follow phone call. The other day was our six month anniversary and I received a call from my salesman checking in to see how we’re doing and if we need anything from him or the dealership. This is an example of follow up done right.

Find unique and positive ways to demonstrate gratitude to fill your donor’s heart with joy.

2. Fill the donor with feelings of joy when they make that gift

Part of your gratitude messaging needs to demonstrate that you understand the motivation for their gift: they want to give to help the cause and the beneficiaries of your work. The result from making the donation is a feeling of joy.

One of the quickest ways to lose a donor and to have them never made that second gift is to have them not feel good as they walk away from that first gift. One of the things that you can do is through your email welcome series is to help fill them with joy and share a story of impact, immediately, similar to gift that they just made.

The immediacy here is important. Recently, I donated to an organization and received my receipt email from them a week later. I received a thank you card a month later. In the thank you card was a copy of my receipt.

30 days is too long to thank a donor. Tell your donor a story of impact close to when she donates.

3. Reinforce their decision to give

There are a number of times where people make a donation and they immediately regret having made that donation. It’s sort of like buyer’s remorse. They have donor’s remorse. Not anything against your organization, they just think, “Oh, did I give too much? Do I really have the commitment to make here? Can I afford to give that donation right now?” They have  donor’s remorse, and it causes them to not want to give again, because it fills them with feelings of guilt.

When you reinforce their decision to give, you tell them a story of impact, you tell them how their donation is going to make an impact,  it reinforces the decision that they made was a good decision to fight for your cause and to give to your organization, specifically, to fight for that cause.

4. Follow up as quickly as possible with that story of impact

You want to get an email out to these donors immediately upon receipt with an effective impact story.

After that, you want to follow up as quickly as you have a story for the specific campaign. For example, if you give to a disaster relief project at Food For the Hungry, you’re going to receive, within the first couple of weeks, a story of impact of how that donation was used. It may not be a complete story, because we may not be finished with that work yet, but it’s going to demonstrate what your gift was used for.

For tsunami relief in Indonesia, a couple weeks after it happened, we sent out stories of roofs that we’ve rebuilt on homes, emergencies supplies that made it to families, and how many lives were impacted from that particular giving campaign.

Later, you should follow up with a deeper story of impact of the good work that you’ve accomplished with the donation.

5. Find ways to surprise your donors

Surprise your donors.

Make sure your donor understands that your organization appreciates them and recognized the impact they are making.

There are different points in a donor lifecycle when you can surprise and delight your donors.

Perhaps you can recognize the donor for a giving anniversary. Send the donor a card at their one-year anniversary thanking them for all they have accomplished during that year.

You may try sending a postcard to donors reinforcing your gratitude. Or perhaps it’s an email from your leadership thanking donors for the impact they’ve had the past year.

One of the things that we did at Food for the Hungry, about the sixth month mark or so of your journey as a child sponsor, is we mail you a magnet with photo of the child that you’re sponsoring. It’s just a nice way of saying thank you, of keeping that child front of mind for that sponsor, so that they know that the monthly donation that they make is having an impact on a real person.

6. Educate, inform, and entertain your donors

Send donors information that is useful for educating, informing, and entertaining about your cause. At the end of the day, the donor is giving to you because they want to support the cause that you’re fighting for. They’re not giving to you just because of your organization. They’re giving to you because of the work that you do.

They have a passion for the cause.

By providing them information, content, eBooks, videos, webinars around that cause, you’re allowing them to learn how to know, like, and trust your organization and to continue to support your organization because they know that you have the same passion that they do, to fight for the cause.

Happy donors are lifelong donors. Discover ways to impress and delight your donors.

Want to learn more about showing gratitude to your donors to retain more donors?

We’ve created this video course for you to learn more about nurturing your donors. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to properly thank a donor when they give a gift
  • Developing a great email welcome series
  • Ideas for using premiums to increase donor retention
  • How a simple phone call can results in gifts and a lifelong donor relationship

Read more about the Nurturing Your Donors: Increase Retention with Gratitude course.