Current State of Donor Retention: April Fundraising Lab Recap

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for our first-ever virtual Fundraising Lab on April 21, 2020!

Attendees enjoyed Steven Shattucks’ presentation on The Current State of Donor Retention and What Fundraisers Can Do About It, saw how other clients are transitioning their events to a virtual format, and learned how to build a multi-channel marketing campaign.

The Current State of Donor Retention and What Fundraisers Can Do About It

Steven Shattuck, Bloomerang’s Chief Engagement Officer, shared lots of data and statistics on donor retention and giving rates. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the overall average donor retention rate is 45.1%. However, the retention rate for first-time donors is only 20.3%. So, what do you need to do to have them make a second gift? What caused them to not donate again?

According to a study that Steven shared, 54% of donors leave because they can no longer afford it. Let’s take a look at some of the other reasons:

  • 36% – Another organization is more deserving
  • 18% – Poor service or communication
  • 13% – Never got thanked for donating
  • 8% – No information on how the monies were used

Based on the reasons above, a good place to start with trying to increase your donor retention is with communication. Sending your donors thank you letters after every donation is a simple and effective way to show their contribution is appreciated. Another way to show them how their donation has made an impact is by sending a communication piece that shows how their donation has made a difference. For example, a before and after picture of an animal helped or the amount of meals that were able to be provided to families in need.

Along with communication, there are a few other key drivers for keeping your donors:

  • Donor perceives organization to be effective
  • Donor knows what to expect with each interaction
  • Donor receives opportunities to make views known
  • Donor feels like they’re part of an important cause
  • Donor feels his or her involvement is appreciated

Tools & Strategies for Virtual Fundraising Events

Jennifer Mansfield, Qgiv’s Vice President of Customer Experience shared tips and client examples on how to pivot your in-person event to a virtual event. From creating a virtual food pantry to hosting an auction on Facebook live, there are lots of fun ways to host a virtual event.

Changing Channels: Multi-Channel Marketing for Your Next Fundraising Campaign

Abby Jarvis, Qgiv’s Nonprofit Education Manager presented a crash course on building a multi-channel nonprofit marketing campaign. The info-packed session explored how nonprofits can think through the different stages of planning a marketing campaign and spreading the message across various channels. Here are some of the key takeaways from their session:

  • Know your donors!
    • Understanding your donors’ communication preferences, social media habits, and motivations will help you make sure you ask your donors for support in the right way
      • Get to know what programs donors want to support
      • Research where they spend their time, both online and offline
      • Build stories, appeals, and other communications that appeal to your donors’ patterns and preferences
  • Stay consistent!
    • Keep your messaging consistent across all the channels you choose to include in your campaign
      • Use small-scale stories to make your messaging personal and compelling
      • Choose two or three key messages that will drive every communication you send
      • Use consistent language, storytelling, and branding elements across all of your channels
  • Quality > Quantity
    • It’s better to have a great presence on one or two channels than it is to have a mediocre presence on more channels
      • Research your donors’ activities and focus your efforts where they’ll see your messaging
      • Don’t feel obligated to use a channel if your donors aren’t there! You don’t have to use X if all your donors are on Facebook, for example.
      • Periodically evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. You don’t have to feel bad about cutting out a channel if it isn’t working for you.
  • Use your fundraising tools to level up your efforts whenever possible
    • Make your fundraising platform an asset, not a drawback
      • Extend your campaign’s branding, imagery, and story elements through your donors’ journey with you, including on your donation forms, confirmation pages, and donation receipts.
  • Consider using tools like text messaging, peer-to-peer fundraising, or events to make it easy for donors to give in a way that’s easy for them
  • Use your fundraising platform’s tools to keep in touch with donors, evaluate your successes and opportunities for improvement, and plan for future campaigns

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