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10 top tips on charity donor retention

As a charity, you work incredibly hard to attract new supporters.

In fact, when planning your fundraising strategy, you probably focus on acquiring as many new supporters as possible.

But as you probably know, it costs five times as much to attract a new supporter as it does to keep one. And in these challenging times, it makes sense to focus on keeping the supporters you do have, as well as working hard to recruit new ones.

The fact is that donor retention stats are down. Although retaining donors is the most cost-efficient way of raising money, the percentage of supporters who only give once is nearly 70% and the non-profit industry’s average donor retention rate actually hovers around 40%.

Now for the good news: there are lots of ways you can improve your donor retention rate, improve the lifetime value of your supporters, and deliver a brilliant supporter experience, too - and it all comes down to having a strong donor retention strategy.

With that in mind, we’ve shared 10 top tips on charity donor retention below…

10 donor retention tips you won’t want to miss

1. Be quick to thank them

When donors feel appreciated, they’ll be more likely to donate again in the future. It’s as simple as that.

We can’t tell you enough how important it is to thank your supporters. We know it’s difficult to measure the impact, but Jen Shang et al have shown it has a significant effect - which is why you should thank your supporters as soon as possible following their donation.

Did you know that 93% of supporters are more likely to give again if they receive a timely thank you? In fact, they are 400% more likely to donate again if they are thanked within 48 hours of giving - which we know is only really feasible for digital comms - but, when you put it like that, it’s no wonder you need to say “thank you” as soon as you can!

Not sure where to start? Discover seven ways to be really great at saying thank you here.

2. Make it personal

Saying thank you should be an obvious part of your donor retention strategy, and most supporters expect an auto-generated thank you.

However, by personalising your thank yous (and other subsequent communication!), you can take it one step further and make sure your supporters feel really appreciated.

A whopping 84% of people report that being treated like an individual rather than a statistic plays a significant part in which brands they choose to support, so if you want to boost those retention rates, make sure your communications are personalised.

The best way to make it personal? By using your data - which leads us onto our next point…

3. Use your data

Your donor data is essential when it comes to maximising your donor retention, so it’s vital to use it properly.

For starters, utilising your data can enable you to calculate metrics such as your current donor retention rates and the lifetime value of your supporters. However, you can also go one step further and use your data to help you retain your supporters, too.

Getting to know your donors and segmenting them by different factors, such as the number of donations they have made, the amount they have donated, and their donation history, means you can send targeted communications that you know will be relevant and of interest to them.

And by sending the right messages at the right time, you can inspire further actions, boosting your retention rates.

4. Tell them the impact

Another top tip to boost donor retention is to provide your supporters with clear information on how their donation will be spent and how it will make a difference.

Let’s face it, your supporters don’t want to donate to your charity and then feel their donation has disappeared into the abyss. So, if you want to motivate them to keep giving, you need to let them know how their money is being used and show them the difference they are making.

According to Psychology Today, the main reason that people choose to donate is because they exhibit a shared interest and experience - so, if you’re going to retain that interest, it’s important to share positive outcomes so they can see just how much of a difference their donation has made.

5. Follow up sooner rather than later

Once you’ve had a new supporter donate to your charity, stage one is officially complete. But if you’re going to retain that supporter, it’s important to follow up and ask for a second donation sooner rather than later.

After the first donation, donor retention is 23% compared to 60% after the second donation - so it’s essential to ensure that your supporters don’t forget about you by prioritising renewing first-time donors and reaching out to them again as soon as possible.

The fact is that if your supporters have given once, they are probably more than willing to give again - they might just need a little nudge in the right direction!

6. Offer different ways to give

If your supporters are going to keep giving over and over again, you need to make it as convenient as possible for them to do so.

Perhaps they don’t want to sign up to the financial commitment of long-term giving, and that’s fine - there are plenty of different ways that people can support your charity (and you can re-engage with lapsed supporters!).

From raffles and lotteries to one-off donations and virtual events, there are lots of different ways for your supporters to get involved and make a difference.

7. Keep communicating

Another top tip to boost your donor retention rates is to keep having meaningful conversations with your supporters.

After all, whilst some of the reasons people stop supporting your charity might be out of your control, the thing you have the most control over is your interactions with them.

As well as email campaigns, other great ways to engage with your supporters include blogs and social media, as well as more traditional channels of communication such as direct mail.

Basically, with 53% of donors citing poor communication as the reason they stop supporting organisations, it’s important to keep the conversation going!

8. Surprise and delight them

When it comes to keeping the conversation going, if you want to make sure your messages stand out, make sure you surprise and delight them!

Rather than boring, run-of-the-mill emails or another plea for donations, try and find playful and interesting ways to interact with your supporters to foster positive emotional connections with them and keep them coming back for more.

Some fun ideas to strengthen donor loyalty include an email campaign, creative direct mails, or even just shout-outs to your supporters on social media.

9. Ask for their feedback

It’s no secret that a great supporter experience leads to great donor retention rates. But how can you give your supporters the experience they want? By asking them for feedback, of course!

By proactively asking your supporters their opinion, you can show them that you truly care about their donor experience - and it can also give you some useful insights on how you can improve your retention efforts in the future, too.

Discover more about the importance of exceptional supporter experiences in this blog.

10. Reach out to the experts!

Finally, if you want to deliver a great supporter experience and improve donor retention rates, it makes sense to seek expert help and advice.

Here at Woods Valldata, we are response handling specialists. From improved engagement to personalised communications, our team can help you to deliver a great supporter experience and ultimately boost donor retention rates through:

  • Tailored communications based on segments, matrices, and automated trigger points, so you can tweak the theme and timing of content according to supporter history.
  • Variable text, phrasing and high-quality imagery meaning welcome and fulfilment packs are personalised to your supporters, alongside machine and hand matching for multiple personalised items.
  • Fully personalised cards for thanking from printed handwritten scripts, top and tail salutations and complete handwritten statements for high-value donors and value-led engagement
  • Data strategy and strategic support to help develop a supporter engagement strategy that works for your charity and your supporters

Want to find out more about how we can help you to improve your donor retention?

There’s no doubt about it: retaining donors is hard. But, if your charity is going to grow and your fundraising strategies are going to succeed, donor retention is absolutely key to your success.

By demonstrating your value, building trust, and keeping communications open with your supporters, you can watch your retention rates rise. Ultimately, the more you engage with your supporters, the more effective your donor retention strategy will be.

So, for further advice on how to boost your donor retention, contact Woods Valldata today to find out how we can help make your charity fundraising a phenomenal success.

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