For several Non-Profit organizations, year-end time is the prime time for fundraising. It’s the best time of the year to raise money, but with so many other non-profits striving for attention all at once, potential donor are usually overwhelmed by letters and emails asking for donations. This high volume of non-profit fundraising appeals simply drives people away.
From the donor’s point of view, they express distress from over-messaging or inept communications from non-profits they support. Sometimes poor communication fails to properly acknowledge appreciation for donors support or to increase their ongoing interest. From the organization’s point of view, direct response managers are usually frustrated by the never-ending mix of donors who leave the list after just donating once. They need to learn how to better retain donors. They also need to learn how to engage with donors effectively.
Donor retention is not easy at all, but these seven practices will best help you break the curse of donor fatigue.
1- Acknowledge your Donors after each Gift
Every non-profit should make their thank you email and postal mail letter as special as possible. It does not only serve as a donor’s receipt but it’s also the start of a new stage in your relationship. Think of ways you can make that message as creative and as personal as possible. Focus on the donors and their constant impact on your organization, make them feel like their donation is important, no matter how big or small it is. Provide a phone number or a way to reply to the email and invite the donor to connect with you. Review your programmed email message and postal mail letter on a quarterly basis so that you can keep on improving it. This is the most important message you can send.
2- Create an Email Welcome Series for New Donors
Speaking of creating something truly exceptional, it is really important to have an email welcome series for all new donors, even if they have been in your file for a while. You should think about what makes your donors unique. What differences a donor from other people who are engaged with your non-profit organization? How would you choose to communicate that? These are the types of questions which you should consider when creating your donor welcome messages.
Your donor welcome series could contain a series of emails from key stakeholders in your organization, containing a board member or a long-term committed volunteer. If you mail material to your new donors, make sure that your mail and email materials tie together well.
3- Find Balance When Communicating With Your Donors
A frequent complaint from donors is that non-profits ask for money too often, which is a symptom of a different issue. The organization has no balanced fundraising, cultivation, and engagement. Carry out a communications audit with your present donors and email subscribers to evaluate what people receive. You will find it helpful to include constituents and donors in reviewing and developing your communication practices, so you should invite a few to give you feedback.
4- Email, Snail mail or None? Let your Donors be in Control
Not all donors are treated alike, they all have different interests and levels of commitment. With that in mind, it’s essential not to overwhelm your donors with too many communication or with the type of content which they have no interest in.
You should create a communications plan so that you can present a choice in the content of email and mail communications. Your donors will usually respond positively to that choice with more engagement.
5- Consider your Newsletter as a Donor Engagement Tool:
Your newsletter is one of the most effective tools in your communication toolbox, but it can also be used wrongly. The risk comes in misunderstanding its true potential and wasting it with casual “monthly” content. The true purpose of this monthly or quarterly chance is to make your newsletter a donor engagement tool and to refocus your messaging on how your donors are making a difference. Your main task is to reframe your newsletter so that it is focused on improving donor engagement.
6- Engage with your Donors Through your Social Media Channels
Your donors are very fascinating people, and you should be keeping a check on them via any social media channels where they are the most active. You should know how many of your donors are using social media. You should ask them if they use social media frequently. Consider your donors as a special class of “social media influencers”. You should retweet their content and message them directly when you feel it is necessary to do so. This type of cross channel communication will permit you to grow relationships with donors and open new doors to the association.
7- Retaining Donors is the Responsibility of the Entire Organization
The main challenge with donor retention is to look for ways to break it out of the common silo of the ‘development department’. Move it towards an extensive conversation among your whole staff, board, and volunteers telling them about how to retain donors. Have quarterly analysis at staff meetings and board retreats to examine the issue of donor engagement. You can also invite donors to your staff meetings and see how it feels. And who knows? Maybe the big idea of how to retain your donor might come from a donor itself.