Fundraising

Best Practices for Keeping Your Donors Engaged

If donors stop giving, it’s tough to get them back. Nonprofits need to hang on tight to their current donors. Here's how:


Bad news first: research shows that, for every $100 raised by a nonprofit, it was offset by $96 lost through donor attrition. Ugh.

What is donor attrition? It’s the donors you lose year over year. If you have 10 donors and 3 give another gift, you’ve lost 7 donors and your attrition rate is 70%. Your donor retention rate, or rate of keeping them, is 30%.

If donors stop giving, it’s really tough to get them back. The average recapture rate for lapsed donors is only 5%.

So we need to hang on tight to the donors we have?

Yes! Here’s why:

  • Current donors have expressed support of your work, your mission, the cause. They may not know everything about your organization, but their interest has been piqued and they made a donation, so they are a warm contact.
  • It costs more to acquire new donors. Actually, it costs up to 100% more than the donation they make. It can take several campaigns or events, over the course of years to recoup that cost to acquire the new donor. 
  • An incremental increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donors by 200%. So a few key actions now will secure more funds raised later.

The average donor retention rate for nonprofits is around 43.6%, and it has been dropping over the last couple of years. But there is a silver lining here for all nonprofits.

While we remain in the middle of a global pandemic, the overall number of donors has grown year over year. From smaller gifts of $250 and less to larger gifts of $1,000 or more, more wonderful people in the world are stepping up to donate to the causes they care about.

Giving Tuesday is 60 days away. End of Year giving kicks off before then. Before you dive into your paid social, search, and other marketing efforts to find new donors, take a moment to show some love to your current donors and constituents:

  • Pick up the phone. Not to ask. Just to say thank you for being a donor/supporter. Yes, you’ll get a lot of voicemails. That’s ok! It will mean a lot to donors for you to personally reach out just to say thanks. Anyone can make donor thank you calls, from your C-suites to your interns. Everyone connects positively with the mission during thank you calls. 
  • Whether it’s a phone call, personalized video, social shout-out, or handwritten card, try your best to thank a donor in a personal way right after they donate. A donation confirmation email does not = a thank you. 
  • Always make it easy to give more than once. From website popups and emails to direct outreach and donation pages, make monthly giving messaging front and center. The more monthly givers you can convert, the higher your donor retention rate. Monthly donors give 42% more than one time givers (Nonprofit Source).
  • Demonstrate your organization’s impact often. Prioritize getting photos, videos, quotes, and case studies from program beneficiaries.  Keep your donors informed of the impact their dollars are making and keep them engaged to continue their support.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure. This widely used Peter Drucker quote is fitting for many nonprofits, whose development and program staff keep their important information and data across disparate spreadsheets, Google docs, or in other database tools that aren’t built for their unique needs. To track and measure, you need the right tool. One that makes it easy to monitor donor and constituent behavior, from donations to volunteer hours, event attendance, in-kind gifts, introductions, and connections.

If you are looking for a CRM platform that supports your efforts, the Instil team would love to connect! Built with and for nonprofits, Instil does NOT require costly implementation partners or ongoing training, providing immediate access to:

✔️ Detailed Donor Profiles: Individual and Organizational

✔️ Comprehensive Donation and Campaign Management

✔️ Board and stakeholder-ready dashboards and one-click reporting

✔️ Ability to track time, talent, and treasure

✔️Organizational feed with donor highlights, team interactions, and communications

Stewarding your donors certainly makes good business sense. With data and insights, you can level up your stewardship efforts to better retain support and build deep, lasting relationships with your donors and constituents.

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