7 Ways to Build Donor Retention and Create Highly Committed Donors Who Love You

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Don’t we all want “highly committed donors” to our organizations?

If you have highly committed donors, what would your donors do for you?

Well – they will give and give and give again.

What happens when your donors are not highly committed?

My crystal ball tells me that they are unlikely to renew their gifts. :(

Alas, these donors are your one-night-stand folks.

One gift and vamoose – they are gone!

Today I’m sharing guru Roger Craver’s guidance on building donor retention.

BTW, he co-writes one of the top blogs in our industry, The Agitator.net.

Don’t miss his book: Retention Fundraising. It’s a must read for all smart fundraisers who want to raise money the most efficient AND effective way possible.

7 Ways to Build Highly Committed Donors

  1. Help your donor see that you are effectively carrying out your mission.

OK this just seems so very basic. But many nonprofits don’t do this.

Let donors see how you are making a huge difference:  we saved 5 historic structures, we helped 5000 people, we staged 12 performances, we launched 25 rescue boats.

You need to explicitly say to your donor – look what you, Mr. Donor, helped create in our community.

“Look at the wonderful work that we’ve accomplished together.”

If you don’t do this, then your donor will never really know his money made any difference.

You owe it to your donors to tell them what you accomplished.

2. Let your donor know what to expect in each interaction with you.

Be consistent every time you communicate with your donor.

That means you don’t change your message.

Don’t ask her for a gift to support the rain forest and then come back with a newsletter about the Arctic!

Stay on message!

You might be bored with your basic message because you see it and write it all the time.

But your donors have barely grasped what you are trying to say.

Be consistent and don’t confuse your donor.

3. Send your donor timely thank you’s.

This means that the SPEED of your thank you matters more to your donor than you realize.

When are you quick with that “thanks” – what does it say to the donor?

It says you are paying attention.

You appreciate it. You noticed.

You are thrilled to have your donor’s support.

And one more thing – it also says you are a well-run organization.

Your donor will think that his money will be well-spent, because you are efficient!

4. Give your donor the opportunity to make her views known.

I bet you have tons of passionate supporters out there who would just LOVE to tell you WHY they care so much.

But have you ever asked?

It’s time for some phone calls to donors to hear their stories. Or,

  • Send them a survey and ask for their frank personal responses.
  • Invite them to a feedback meeting to hear their thoughts.
  • Ask them to volunteer or get involved in some way.

Bet your donors would love to tell you why they care.

5. Let your donor know she is part of an important cause.

Your donor wants to be able to identify herself as part of your effort for good.

Dr. Adrian Sargeant’s original study in 2008 found that when donors IDENTIFY with you, they have a sense of connectedness and social identity that includes you and your cause.

I can’t think of anything you’d want to foster more!

Once your donors feel really connected, they are in for a long while.

6.  Make your donor feel that you appreciate his or her involvement.

I guess you’ve heard one of my favorite mottos: Find 7 ways to thank your donors and they’ll give again.”

This does not mean you send your donor “stuff.”

Roger said the best way to lose a highly committed donor is to give them stuff, which they don’t want and don’t appreciate.

If you want loyal donors, you need to invent ways to send your donors some love.

“How do we love thee? Let me count the ways!”

7.  Send your donor information on WHO is being helped.

Tell your donor explicitly who they are helping.

Your donors want information – solid, meaningful information about what you are doing with their money and who you are helping.

Is it the little boy down the street? Hungry children in Brazil? Elderly shut-ins in Boston?

Enslaved children in the far east? Artists in your community? Families in need all over the world?

You can’t just take the money and run.

Use your newsletter to share happy stories of people you have helped.

BOTTOM LINE: Creating Highly Committed Donors

Start tweaking your message and your communications!

You CAN do it – and your giving will go up and up from your donors if you do!