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    Five Tips for Strategic Donor Retention

    The world is almost two years into the pandemic and so much has changed during this time, including the non-profit and charitable sector. In fact, recent reports from a Fraser Institute study and CanadaHelps show that charitable donations are on the decline. Not only are fewer Canadians donating to charity, but many are reducing their usual amounts. This means that there has never been a better time to really focus on your donor retention strategies. It’s either this or you run the risk of losing your donors altogether.

    Now that we’re still early into a new year, let’s get started on discussing five donor retention strategies to carry you through 2022.

    Treat Your Donors Like Your Team

    Your donors are essentially an extension of your team and how you treat your team directly correlates with how your team treats the work and cause of your organization. This means that you have an obligation to keep your donors in the loop. Donors appreciate feeling like they are an extension of the good work your organization does, and part of retaining your donors, is to keep them in-the-know about the successes of your mission work. But be transparent about it.

    Remember to Use “You” and Personalized Language

    Your donors give to your organization because they already believe in the mission. Your job is less about selling your organization and its mission and more about how the donor helps to achieve your goals. Practice using donor-centric language. For example, you want to use language like: “It is because of You that…” or “Your donation has helped to reduce….” This is separate and apart from the very obvious greeting of your donor by name. And in case you didn’t realize, sometimes capitalizing the “Y” in “you/r” in the middle of or at the end of a sentence, makes the world of difference in adding that personal touch to the emails that you send to your donors.

    Engage Your Donors without Asking for Money

    The fact that you have donors giving to your organization means that there is something about the mission that resonates with them. This also means that you have a great opportunity to ask for more from your donors, without asking for more money. Invite your donors to volunteer on some of your programs. Ask them to shoot a video advocating for your cause. Invite them to serve as board members. Ask them to connect you with other like-minded persons. Engaging your donors in these ways turns them from simply being donors and converts them to supporters of your organization and cause, which should be part of your long-term donor retention strategy.

    Add a Little Surprise to the Mix

    Everyone loves surprises, even if they say they don’t. This means that your donors are no exception. If anonymity isn’t an issue, give them a social media shout-out. If email is the standard line of communication with your donors – deviate from the norm – give them a call. While the world is going digital more than ever before, there is something so perpetually warm about a hand-written note. When was the last time you did that? With us still being at the top of the year, you have the opportunity to let your creative juices flow, so while you advance your organization’s mission this year, think of ways to surprise your donors, too.

    Get Creative with Your ‘Thank You’

    Of course, at the core of donor-centered relations, is saying ‘thank you.’ But you need to go beyond just the generic message after a donation. Donors should be reminded that their donations are going to worthy use. Some alternate ways of saying ‘thank you’ can come in the form of a quarterly report update to your donor, showing and telling them how their donations have worked during that period. Don’t forget to thank them on Thanksgiving, and perhaps you can surprise them with a video message at the end of the year as well.  

    Always remember, retaining your donor is just as important as scoring the initial donation.


    About the Author

    Darren McAlmont

    Writer, Anti-Racism Advocate & Communications Specialist