Donor Retention: How to Keep the Donors you Have

Sep 15, 2021Donors, Fundraising, Leadership, Nonprofit Funding, Nonprofits, Philanthropy

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Do you have a donor retention plan?

Let’s face it – the way we interact with donors going forward will be different from in the past. 

No doubt, you have to show your supporters how much you care about them.  Certainly, you want to love on” your major donors because they typically account for 90% of giving to your nonprofit organization.

And you know it’s much easier to keep the donors you have than it is to acquire new ones.  

So let's show donors how much you value them and appreciate their support of your mission. 

Your major donors are your organization’s best friends! 

Not all Donor Calls are Ask Calls

No matter where you are in engaging donors along the donor giving path, you must stay in contact with your top major donors. 

As not every time you call on a donor is to ask them for a gift. 

With that, you want to do everything you can to make your donors feel and know they are cherished – especially now. 

Over the Top Ways to Connect with Donors

With limited or no face-to-face conversations with donors, it is imperative to stay in contact with them. 

In fact, now is a golden opportunity to joyfully delight your donors with special messages of gratitude. 

Here are top ways to surprise, delight, and wow donors by thoughtfully connecting:

Donor Retention: Meaningful Interactions

#1 Give your most loyal donors a phone call ON their birthday. How many people actually make surprise calls to donors on their birthday? Very few! As such, don’t miss any upcoming birthdays! 

#2 Ask top donors for permission to spotlight them in your upcoming newsletter and tell their story of why they support your cause. Then repurpose the donor stories at least three times by profiling them on your website, on social media platforms, and in annual reports, for example.

#3 Make calls to top ideal major donors and prospects to seek advice on matters appropriate for them. Be sincere. For one, don’t come up with a frivolous question. Instead, get their perspective on an idea. Remember, you don’t want to only call donors when you need money.

#4 Watch for opportunities to send a “thinking of you,” “get well soon,” “congratulations” cards. To start, have a stack of cards and stamps in your drawer ready to drop a special note. Without a doubt, you will stand out when you do this, and donors will respond the next time you call them.

Donor Retention: Thoughtful Gratitude

5# When a major gift is committed, have the board chair promptly make a personal call to say thank-you for their support.

#6 Have beneficiaries send handwritten, heartfelt notes of thanks to top donors. I remember an elderly donor sharing with me he kept every thank-you note he received from students for the scholarship he and his wife established years earlier. Indeed, they cherished each word of gratitude.

#7 Respond immediately with a personalized thank-you video for a gift received. Both responding as soon as you know about the gift and with a video is an attention-getter. Not only that, the time you took to send the message shows your depth of gratitude.

Donor Retention, In Summary

No matter how well you know your top donors, they deserve to hear from you. It doesn’t matter if you are new in your position or been at the nonprofit for a while, you want to strengthen your relationship with your top donors.

Your phone call, note, or text can brighten a donor’s day!

With these top ways to connect with donors, you build stronger rapport and more loyalty from your donors.

And remember – not every phone call you make to a donor is an ask call.

When the time is right, you turn to your most loyal, committed, and appreciated donors for support. You ask for their continued support or a step up in giving if they can do so. 

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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