HOW TO: Dramatically Increase Your Nonprofit's Online Donations Over the Next 12 Months

retaining online donors
09.08.2011By

It looks like, on average nonprofits are bleeding to death. A couple of weeks ago, the AFP reported that:

“For every $5.35 that organizations gained in gift dollars in 2010, $5.54 was lost through donor attrition, for an average net loss of -1.9 percent.”

Translation for people who hate math: nonprofits are bad at retaining donors.

Stop the Bleeding By Focusing on Donor Retention

I’m not that good at math either, but I do know that acquiring a new donor is at least three times as expensive as keeping a donor. I also know that the lifetime dollar value of a donor that sticks around is more than a donor who only gives once (d’uh).

Wouldn’t it be smarter to take resources from your donor acquisition strategy and apply them towards beefing up donor retention? Any successful for-profit business will tell you to invest heavily in retention.

Following are a few ideas to get you started:

Say Thanks

Can you believe that national organizations like The Red Cross and Defenders of Wildlife never said thanks to Kivi? Not only did they lose a potential repeat donor, they ended up on Kivi’s wall of shame!

If only they said “thanks,” they wouldn’t have to waste resources replacing her with another donor, who most likely won’t sign on as a lifer unless these orgs change their follow-up strategy.

Give Your Current Advocates Ninja Tools

You know what’s made iTunes a billion-dollar success? Optimizing their purchase down to a single mouse-click. Same thing goes for your top social fundraisers.

Don’t give your top fundraisiers a clunky platform that they have to explain how to use so their friends can donate. Give them something powerfully simple, like Razoo. Remember, you’re trying to keep these top fundraisers happy.

Support Your Supporters Agendas

One way to keep your top supporters interested and committed is to support their agendas! For example, if one of your top supporters publishes a blog about why the cause is personal, you need to be retweeting their blog posts. Or if one of your top fundraisers owns a local restaurant, you’d better be holding some of your events there.

Constantly Report Outcomes

I love what the Animal Rescue League of Boston does on Facebook. Almost every week, I see some kind of success story. As Alexandra mentioned, 53% of online donors in one study identified “achieving and communicating measurable results” as prominent in their decision making to donate again. You want people to donate more than once? Report outcomes!

Develop One Cause Marketing Partnership

My good friend, Joe Waters and I are often surprised how few nonprofits have a cause marketing partnership, or even know what cause marketing is! Last Mother’s Day, Epic Change followed up with each online donor with a promotion about one of their cause marketing partners: A percent of this really great mothers day gift does to Epic Change. Click here to buy…. Smart stuff.

Don’t Shoot for Perfect

Trying to get everything perfect will only get nothing done. But “done” is what you want. Break down your donor retention strategy down to small chunks that you can finish one at a time. Done… next… repeat.

What do you think?

  • Beth Ann Locke

    This is a great post to remind us of some of the basics our parents tried to teach us: Always say thank you. 

    But in fundraising, we need to do more than just put a thanks in the mail (or email). Repeat donors come most often from a connection to your organization. That connection may come from them (volunteering, passion, etc.) but can be facilitated by development staff. You can perform an audit yourself: Send off a $25 gift to three similar organizations & yours. Review the thanking and engaging procedures – and how often they are being done. ~ FundraiserBeth

    • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

      Beth – Great idea! Did you see what results @kivilm got?

  • http://twitter.com/FundraiserBeth Beth Ann Locke

    This is a great post to remind us of some of the basics our parents tried to teach us: Always say thank you.u00a0nnBut in fundraising, we need to do more than just put a thanks in the mail (or email). Repeat donors come most often from a connection to youru00a0organization. That connection may come from them (volunteering, passion, etc.) but can be facilitated by development staff. You can perform an audit yourself: Send off a $25 gift to three similar organizations & yours. Review the thanking and engaging procedures – and how often they are being done. ~ FundraiserBethn

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      Beth – Great idea! Did you see what results @kivilm got?

  • http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog Kivi Leroux Miller

    After I did the blog post, several of the organizations did call me, but mostly to make excuses based on the way I gave the gift (I cashed in credit card points rather than going through their websites directly.) The bottom line is that there is still tons of room for improvement on thank you’s and donor retention and nonprofits that do this well can really position themselves ahead of everyone else.

  • http://www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com/blog Kivi Leroux Miller

    After I did the blog post, several of the organizations did call me, but mostly to make excuses based on the way I gave the gift (I cashed in credit card points rather than going through their websites directly.) The bottom line is that there is still tons of room for improvement on thank you’s and donor retention and nonprofits that do this well can really position themselves ahead of everyone else.

  • http://www.fundraisinisfun.com Ephraimgopin

    great post John!

    simply put: repeat customers are more loyal and likely to but more
    translation: retaining donors means they will continue to give and many times the amount given will grow incrementally

    one thing I see is nonprofits who do not do retain & cultivate small donors and I never understood why: in bad economic times, they continue to give whereas major gifts suffer.
    Having a balanced giving pyramid is imperative- when it’s top heavy and one donor stops giving, the pyramid collapses

    get donors more involved- invite them for a visit, talk to them and hear their insights. You never know when retaining the right donor will lead to a major gift down the road

    - Ephraim

  • http://www.fundraisinisfun.com Ephraimgopin

    great post John!nnsimply put: repeat customers are more loyal and likely to but morentranslation: retaining donors means they will continue to give and many times the amount given will grow incrementally nnone thing I see is nonprofits who do not do retain & cultivate small donors and I never understood why: in bad economic times, they continue to give whereas major gifts suffer.nHaving a balanced giving pyramid is imperative- when it’s top heavy and one donor stops giving, the pyramid collapsesnnget donors more involved- invite them for a visit, talk to them and hear their insights. You never know when retaining the right donor will lead to a major gift down the roadnn- Ephraim

  • Sunelaugh

    CARE does a great job with thanks and showing impact.

  • Sunelaugh

    CARE does a great job with thanks and showing impact.

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