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6 Steps You Can Take Today to Improve Your Donor Retention

We all know that donor retention is where the easy money is for you, your team, and your organization in 2014.

It’s the key to sustainable fundraising for your organization. money on wings drawing
Getting current donors to renew is far, far easier than bringing in new donors.

Right?

So let’s focus here this week!

What can we do to keep our donors giving, giving and giving again?

It’s really a matter of making them feel connected. And making them feel like we care about them.

No problem! We CAN do this!

These 6 steps are based on a webinar that Bloomerang CEO Jay Love shared with my Fired-Up Fundraising INSIDERS this week.

Jay and I both credit these ideas to Dr. Adrian Sargeant – the donor retention guru himself.

1. Drip feed your donors hard data about your successes  and accomplishments.

I love the concept of “Drip Feeding.”

You get the idea – drip, drip, drip.

A steady flow of reassuring information that you are doing your job and that you are accomplishing great things.

Drip feeding performance data builds your credibility.

It builds your donors’ confidence that they made a smart investment in you.

It makes your donors happy and satisfied that they are helping to make the world a better place.

Drip feed great info to your donors continuously!

Drip feed great info to your donors continuously!

Here’s how you do it:

“We reached this many parents in this amount of time.

“We fed this many kids this year. 

“We helped these many families with their ____ needs. 

2. Connect with your donors often, especially the first 90 days.

Jay Love said it was absolutely critical to be in touch the first 90 days.

That is, if you want to forge a strong relationship with your donor.

Your donor just sent you “love” via their checkbook, and they want some love and attention back.

So many typical boring newsletters just don’t cut it with donors.

Many donors don’t read your newsletters because they are simply not interesting.

Here’s how to do it. Just say:

“Hello!

“Join us and get involved!

“Thanks for joining the team!

3. Be personal with your donors by mailing about their specific interests.

This is all about segmenting your list.

You should be tracking your donors’ various interests and their participation with your organization.

Hopefully you and all your staff are feeding this kind of information into your donor database.

If you are not tracking this kind of detail, you might want to start.

It lets you send mailings tailored to your donor’s specific interest.

The most important word in every single letter to your donors is YOU.

The most important word in every single letter to your donors is YOU.

And that says to the donor “They know me and they care about me.”

Here’s how to do it.

“You are a parent, so here is parent information.

“You attended this concert, so here is info on these types of concerts.

“You responded to our survey so here are the survey results.

4. Develop like a good personal friendship.

Gosh, what does “friendly” look like?

And WHY is “friendly” so very difficult for many nonprofits?

It’s all about the words you choose and the tone you take.

Use contractions. Say things in a casual way.

Be approachable. Don’t be fussy, lofty or formal.

Don’t use your typical jargon or acronyms that donors just don’t understand!

Here’s how to do it.

Use “you” twice as many times as you use “we.”

Have a casual tone.

Invite them to participate often – like you would a close friend.

5. Have many different people connect with your donors.

Jay and Adrian call this “human connectors.”

What?

Human connectors are different people who make contact with your donors.

What if the ballerina connected directly to donors?!!

What if the ballerina connected directly to donors?!!

You need many different people associated with your organization to be in touch with your donors in multiple ways.

Here’s how to do it.

“I’m a parent and wanted to tell you . . . 

“I’m a table captain and want to thank you for attending our event.

“I’m a ballerina and want to share my story.

6. Always communicate to donors what their monies are doing.

Ah, this – I think – its the most important!

Your donors are always a bit nervous about their investment in you.

More than anything, they want to know what their hard-earned money is accomplishing!

And this is easy . . . you can do this!

Hopefully you are doing it already.

Here’s how to do it.

“Your gift helped feed this many people.

“Your contribution helped bring food and shelter to this number of families.

“Your generosity supported 15 concerts around the state.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whether your donors give again is almost entirely up to you and your team.

You CAN increase your donor retention!

And it can pay off with amazing financial returns!

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  • Wes Clark

    When addressing points #1 and #6 (drip-feeding successes and reporting back on the impact of gifts), also make sure to use the story of one beneficiary to provide context and emotional triggers for the data/facts you provide. The story will make the facts more meaningful and memorable.

  • gailperry

    Thanks Wes – great point. Studies show that talking about ONE beneficiary with ONE story has more impact than several stories. Thx for making that point!