Today I am sharing the #1 fundraising strategy you need to implement for the coming year. Here’s where the easy money is for your deserving nonprofit.golden key

#1 Strategy? Build Up Your Donor Loyalty

Here’s how you create and nurture a whole cadre — an entire bandwagon, even — of raving fans and donors who just LOVE your organization and would do anything in the world for you.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that kind of rabid base of supporters? Bet you could change the world a lot faster if you had donors like that!

All the pundits and gurus  – Roger Craver, Lisa Sargent, Pam Grow, John Lepp, Jay Love, Lynne Wester, etc  – we are all also saying the same thing:

Donor Retention Is Your Place of Greatest Fundraising Opportunity.

WHY is building donor loyalty such a profitable strategy?

Because it’s one of the most cost effective fundraising strategies around. And it’s simple.

It’s even fun – because it focuses on cheerfully connecting with your donors instead of asking for money all the time.

If you spent time and energy on your wonderful donors, if you could show them such a totally lovely experience — then they would brag about you, spread the word, jump on your bandwagon, and even bring their friends to your cause.

They would love giving you money over and over, too.

Then you would not HAVE to emphasize the ask so much.

This is a Sea-Change Shift in Your Fundraising Philosophy and Strategy

It’s a huge deal.

Renewing donors is the easy part of fundraising.

We all know that it’s much, much easier to get a current donor to renew than it is to secure a brand new donor. #fundraisingnobrainer!

But alas, we are failing to renew our very special, fabulous, generous current donors!!

We are actually failing quite miserably.

And because of our sloppy attempts to communicate and thank them, they are abandoning us. We’re even pushing them away. 

Our donors are slipping away, like the proverbial leaky bucket.

Are you losing your current donors like a leaky bucket?

Roger Craver says we are losing our donors just like a leaky bucket.

Across the nonprofit sector, nearly 6 out of 10 donors do not give again in the next year.

What’s YOUR donor renewal rate? Dare I ask?

And check out your brand new donors.

These are the ones you are working the hardest to bring in the door.

Only about 30% of them are likely to renew their gift. (What kind of business could survive with customer retention stats like that?)

So here is the money you are leaving on the table.

You May Not Even Know How Much $$ is Just Flowing Through Your Fingers

Not convinced? Then try this and shoot me an email when you finish.

  1. Pull a report from your database of the donors who gave two years ago, but who did not give last year.
  2. Add up the money that these donors were giving – money that didn’t get renewed.
  3. When you see the total that walked out the door, you’ll probably faint.
  4. Then pick yourself up and take donor loyalty seriously.:)

So how do you build up your donor loyalty?

What you want to do is focus on the experience your donors are getting from your organization.

And you need to thank them in amazing ways. Download Pamela Grow’s Thank You Letter Template here for some quick guidance!

20 Ideas To Garner Donor Loyalty and Raise More Money

  1. Organization-wide commitment.

Get everybody on board – from the from the front desk to the CEO – to adopt donors as a HUGE high priority.

  1.  Tell better stories.

Send your donors fabulous, emotional stories about how they are helping make your important work happen.

  1. Give your donors credit for the work that YOUR organization is doing.

This is what donor-centered really means. Remove your organization as the intermediary between your donor and the wonderful results you achieve.

  1. Thank your donors over and over!

John Lepp says “say thank you until your donors tell you to stop.”

Remember the old fundraising axiom: “Find 7 ways to thank your donors and they will give again.”

  1. Ask your donors their opinion.

It’s so easy to survey your donors.

Check out Pam Grow’s story about the amazing donor survey she received.

And Lynne Wester’s sample donor survey here. And Mary Cahalane’s survey here.

  1. Try creative thank you’s like:

Fun hand-written or drawn thank you notes.

  1. Thank donors via social media.

Lori Jacobwith says “Hold a special Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or some other social media “Thank a Donor” day, week, or month. (I love this!)

  1. Host a focus group of donors.

Bring donors together to share their experiences and give you feedback.

I once facilitated a focus group for the NC Symphony – and the donors loved it!

9. Have board members hand write thank you notes.

Bring note cards to your next board meeting and take a few minutes for them to pen personal notes.

10. Ditch your “Donor Appreciation Event.” (Yawn)

Instead have a fun cookout, or throw a porch party honoring all your donors.

  1. Recognize long-time donors.

Based on how long they have been giving, not their gift amount, says Tom Ahern.

  1. Celebrate holidays with your donors:

Send them Valentines, Thanksgiving cards, April Fools notes – you get the idea!  (have some fun!)l

  1. Send them videos of your work in the field.

You could even stream live videos for them. (!)

Nothing would make your donor feel closer to the cause!

  1. Hold a Thankathon for your donors.

Check out how Benevon organizes thankathons.

  1. Have your board members make thank you phone calls.

It’s a great way to introduce your board members to fundraising. AND donors will give substantially more when they get a phone call thank you!

  1. Tell them over and over about all the wonderful things in the world THEY are making possible.

Tom Ahern says “make your donor the hero!” Send your donors special newsletters like these from Sandy Rees.

  1. Give them special “donors only” events.

Like tours, briefings, conference calls. And yes, parties!

  1. Make personal thank you visits.

What an easy and nice way to connect deeply with an important donor!

  1. Send them a thank you very very very quickly. And it needs to be perfect.

Steven Shattuck of Bloomerang says that “Over half of donors lapse because of poor appreciation; gift acknowledgements that are slow to arrive . . .

  1. Make your thank you’s gushy, personal, emotional.

Write to them like you are just thrilled to receive their money. Which you are, of course.


Are you ready for an organization-wide shift in how you treat your donors?

Let us know your favorite ways to love your donors with a comment below: