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  • Writer's pictureValerie Davis

Keep Your Donors - 3 Simple Steps

One of the most important things you can do right now is to keep your donors -especially new donors. Due to the Covid-19 crisis nonprofits are stretched thinner than ever while dealing with cuts in funding and other revenue losses. At the same time, many are faced with increased demand -particularly those in human services. Because donor support is critical in this time of crisis, nonprofits are working harder than ever to reach new donors and raise more money. While the need for donor support is growing, we know that donor attrition is high. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project 2019 Fourth Quarter Report, the 2019 YTD donor retention rate is 45%, and the rate for new donor retention is only 20%. This is not the time to let go of 80% of your new donors. We know that it costs less to retain and motivate existing donors versus the costs to acquire new donors. My advice is this: Don’t ignore your new donors -no matter the size of their gift!

A recent experience gave me greater insight into the donor’s perspective. During The Big Give, I made a gift to an organization that I had not previously donated to, and as expected, I immediately received an email receipt from The Columbus Foundation. However, I have not received any kind of communication from the nonprofit. You might be surprised that I am talking about a large, well-respected organization. Will I give to them again? I like their mission so, maybe. However, if they were small and if I was unfamiliar with them and how they were impacting the community – my answer would be NO. Did any of your new donors who gave to you during the Big Give (or during your Covid-19 response campaign) have this experience? If so, here is some good news -it is not too late to do something about this -NOW!

Here are a few simple steps to create an action plan that you can implement immediately.

3 Simple Steps

Step 1 – Begin with gratitude. Send a personal thank you for every donation -no matter the size. Remember to customize your message for new donors. Note: if you did not do this for the Big Give or your recent Covid-19 response campaign -just do it now and make sure to do it immediately following the donation going forward. If you’re sending a late thank you, I suggest using this as an opportunity to let them know how their donation helped (donors want to know the impact they’re making). This is best practice for on time responses as well.

Step 2 – Engage and Cultivate. Plan how you are going to share information and provide opportunities for them to become more involved with your organization. Send a personal message along with your e-newsletter, and ask if they would like to be added to the distribution list. Also, make sure they are included on invitation lists for events. Avoid dumping their information into general development mass communications. Instead, keep them updated on what’s going at your organization during this crisis and provide them with updates on volunteer opportunities.

Step 3 – Make Ask. This step will be natural and welcomed by your new donor if you have taken the time to engage and steward them.

In conclusion, donor retention is crucial -especially now during this Covid-19 crisis. Donors are people, and we are all affected by and adjusting to this crisis in different ways. The good news is that people want to connect and help in ways that matter to them. I know that some of you are feeling this right now. So help them to help you. Ultimately it’s all about the relationship.

If you’re interested in chatting or have a question, please reach out to me.

Valerie Davis

Philanthropy Focus

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