The continued impact of COVID-19 on life around the world remains unprecedented, and nonprofits, like many other industries, have been greatly impacted.  Due to Covid-19, many nonprofits have seen a decline in their support.  The Independent Sector released a survey that illustrates that the pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown has had significant effects on the services, operations, and the people working in the nonprofit sector. The study stated “Notably, 83% of organizations reported a decline in revenues, including a decline in earned revenue from events or other activities, and a reduction in individual giving and grants received. These events have hit both the organizations’ ability to fulfill their missions.” 

However, having a healthy donor retention strategy can help you weather through this storm.  Effective donor retention strategies have always been critical to the success of nonprofits, but even more so during these unprecedented times.  Here are several donor retention techniques to help you retain your donors.

New Donor Welcome Packet

Welcome all of your new donors by sending them a welcome packet to embrace them into your organization.  New donors are most engaged in your mission shortly after they have made their first gift, so you want to maintain this momentum by making sure they feel welcomed.  Typically, welcome packets include a colorful brochure about your organization and some sort of swag like a sticker or magnet.  If your nonprofit has a monthly donor program, you include a special invite in the welcome package.  However, given the times we are in, you may consider making your welcome package entirely digital.

Here are some additional tips for your new donor welcome packet.

New Donor Welcome Email Series

Similar to new donor welcome packets, new donor welcome series can be used to help nurture and cultivate your new donors.  Through these welcome series, you can onboard new supporters and help them get to understand the value of your organization.  Welcome emails are typically a series of 2-3 emails that include another thank you, a calendar of upcoming events and a survey that asks questions about their motivations for giving to your nonprofit.  You may also consider adding an additional email where you invite them to join your monthly donor program.

Here are some additional tips on new donor welcome email series.

Thank you Calls

You can never say thank you enough and one of the best ways to help improve your donor retention is through thank you calls.  If your nonprofit has a group of volunteers, leverage them to conduct thank you calls to your donors.  This is a really meaningful way to both engage your volunteers in your mission and steward your donors.  The thank you calls should be used to express appreciation, answer any questions that the donor has, and ask a few specific questions of the donor, such as how they learned about your organization and what motivated them to make a gift.  Not only are thank you calls a great way to drive donor retention; they can also lead to increased revenue.  A test conducted by Bloomerang concluded that donors that received a thank you call experienced higher retention rates vs. donors that did not receive a thank you call. Thank you calls are so powerful because they are so unexpected.  Donors are so used to being asked to give so when they receive a call without anything being asked in return, it becomes a really memorable experience.

Connect Virtually

Although most in-person events are not being held right now, you can still drive strong engagement virtually.  Invite your donors to follow you on social media, so they can be kept up to date on your mission.  You can leverage social media to host Facebook or Instagram live chats where staff and leaders can talk with volunteers about their experience.  You can also use the live features to show the behind the scenes action of volunteers engaged in your mission (if it is safe to do so).  Showing videos of how volunteers are delivering food to communities in need, providing kids with school supplies, etc. can be a creative way that further engages donors in your mission. 

Here are some tips on how your nonprofit can connect virtually.

Make it Easy for your Donors to Give

Many times donors do not give back because they are not presented with different options on ways to give.  A few years ago, giving on social media platforms was unheard of.  Now, these platforms raise billions of dollars each year and offer simple ways for donors to give.  In essence, you want to make it as easy as possible for donors to give and give them with multiple options.  Here are a few ways to make giving convenient for your donors.

  • Develop a monthly giving program:  Donors who give monthly have the highest retention rates.  The convenience of being able to set up recurring gifts and knowing that they are making a difference each month is one of best ways to increase donor retention.
  • Text: Invite your donors to give via text campaigns.  Being able to make a donation with a few swipes on the phone, is a great way to encourage continued giving. 
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns:  Invite your donors to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.  There could be times when a donor is unable to make a direct donation, but they can still leverage their influence to raise money for your nonprofit from their family and friends. 

Anniversary Gifts

If your nonprofit is lucky enough to have a group of donors that have given for multiple years, consider sending them a small token of appreciation like a certificate to celebrate their giving anniversary.  Although these donors are already being retained, recognizing their long-term commitment to your organization can increase their giving and reduce their risk of attrition.  One tip that we have found successful is to include a reply envelope when you mail the donors their anniversary gift.  Many donors will send an additional gift, even though there was no ask included! 

Retaining donors is key to having a successful fundraising strategy.  Using these tips, your nonprofit can start retaining more donors and achieving a more consistent source of revenue.