Building Sustainable Revenue With Recurring Donors and Donor Retention Practices – Key Takeaways from Qgiv’s Sustainable Giving Report

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When launching the Sustainable Giving Report, Qgiv aimed to find solutions to some of the largest challenges fundraisers are facing today, such as the economy’s impact on philanthropy, overall donor numbers and donor retention declining, the Great Resignation, and more!  

eBook cover and prompt to download Qgiv's Sustainable Giving Report

The Sustainable Giving Report was broken down into multiple sections. The first blog, The Economy’s Impact on Philanthropy, detailed the way economic instability has changed fundraising.  

The second blog in the Sustainable Giving Report series, Wellness of Nonprofit Teams, explored the staffing struggles that nonprofit fundraisers have had to overcome in the last three years.  

The final section of the Sustainable Giving Report covered building sustainable streams of revenue and explored fundraising events, donor retention, and recurring giving. The previous blog, Building Sustainable Revenue With Fundraising Events, outlined the changes to fundraising events in the last three years, how donors are engaging with fundraising events, and the strategies fundraisers can implement to ensure their events are sustainable, engaging, and elevated compared to prior years.  

Graphic from Qgiv's Sustainable Giving Report that says "Building Sustainable Streams of Revenue, Recurring Donations & Retention"

Fundraiser Findings

Questions asked to fundraisers in the final donor retention and recurring donor section were intended to better understand how donors are obtaining recurring donors, what the best donor retention practices for fundraisers are, and donors’ communication preferences.    

Most nonprofit organizations support recurring gifts and are looking to secure additional sustaining-level donors.   

Most organizations offer a wide array of recurring giving types, including monthly, annually, quarterly, biweekly, and weekly. Fundraisers have goals to gain additional recurring donors and to retain their current recurring donors. The most popular strategies for obtaining recurring donors are targeted asks and specific campaigns. The Sustainable Giving Report found that fundraisers are providing some additional communications to their recurring donors.  

Fundraisers want to spend more time on donor retention.  

We were surprised to discover that donor retention rates were unknown by over 43% of fundraisers! The report also found that fundraisers are spending between zero and 25% of their time on their organization’s donor retention efforts, and over half of fundraisers want to spend more of their work time on donor retention and stewardship efforts! We found that an organization’s retention strategies differ based on the type of donor. Fifty-eight percent of fundraisers have different retention strategies for major donors, and 50.2% switch up their retention strategies for recurring donors. Other engagement factors that fundraisers are considering for donor retention efforts are for first-time donors (41.9%), board members (37.7%) and volunteers (27%). Thirty-seven percent of fundraisers do not have different retention strategies based on the type of donor. Fundraisers need more staff, time, and knowledge to increase their donor retention efforts.  

Graph from Qgiv's Sustainable Giving Report depicting donor retention rates. Majority of respondents (43.4%) are unsure of their donor retention rate.

Donor findings

Donor communication and recognition preferences vary. 

After making their first gift at an organization, donors preferred recognition method varied. Forty percent of donor respondents prefer a thank you via email. Twenty percent of donor respondents prefer a handwritten thank you, and 20% prefer a phone call from the organization’s leadership. A donor receiving public recognition for their gift and learning more about the organization they donated to are the top factors that influence them to make a second gift. The Sustainable Giving Report found that over 80% of donors would be highly or somewhat likely to make a second gift to an organization after receiving a personalized acknowledgment. The top reason a donor would stop supporting an organization is because of a complicated user experience.   

Graph from Qgiv's Sustainable Giving Report showing answers to the question, "After you make a first-time donation to an organization, what is your preferred thank you method?" Email is the primary method at 40.1%, followed by handwritten thank you note (20.3%), phone call from nonprofit leadership or a board member (20.2%), mailed tax acknowledgement (15.1%) and other (4.4%).

Final thoughts and takeaways for your organization  

Know your donor retention rate.  

It is so important for fundraisers to know their donor retention rate! The study found that 43% of fundraisers are unsure of their donor retention rate. Donor acquisition is often a top goal for fundraisers, and that can mean donor retention gets left behind as an afterthought. Qgiv encourages fundraisers to calculate their donor retention rate and to understand the overall health of their donor acquisition and stewardship strategies. Poor donor retention leads to more resources spent on capturing new donors, decreasing your ROI and affecting your bottom line. In fact, the cost of acquiring new donors can be 50-100% more than their initial donation to your organization! 

The formula for calculating donor retention can be found below! 

Offer multiple giving frequencies.   

We encourage fundraisers to offer multiple giving frequencies to make it easier for donors to support your organization at their preferred frequency. By enabling recurring giving, you’re providing donors with the opportunity to break their larger donations up into smaller chunks and are instilling a habit! Remember, supporters who give to an organization on a scheduled basis prove to have the highest retention rates, making them a great source of reliable revenue! 

Allocate more resources for fundraisers to focus more of their time on retention.   

Over half of fundraising respondents answered that they spend 0-25% of their time on donor retention efforts. Acquiring new donors can amount to nothing if you don’t have a plan to keep your donors!  It is easy to chase the next exciting gala, acquisition strategy, or campaign. However, donor retention and stewardship efforts are just as crucial for an organization’s sustainability plan.

Learn more

Download your copy of the Sustainable Giving Report today to learn more about recurring donors and donor retention practices!    

Other key takeaways from Qgiv’s Sustainable Giving Report

eBook cover and prompt to download Qgiv's Sustainable Giving Report

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