Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Donor Retention: A Black Hole?

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator, Community First Foundation

Recently, while speaking to a frustrated donor, I was reminded of the incredible importance of communicating with supporters. The donor wished that the nonprofits she gave to were more transparent about the contributions they received and how much they raised at fundraisers.

Although it seems simple, creating positive relationships with donors is very important to donor retention. We’ll be covering this topic in our upcoming webinar, “Nurturing Long Lasting Relationships with Your Donors After Colorado Gives Day,” on February 13 from 9 – 10 a.m. 

In the meantime, review these quick, simple tips to ensure that you're treating your donors right and getting off on the right foot with your brand new donors from Colorado Gives Day. Our survey shows that 76% of nonprofits received at least one new donor that day.


  1. Thank them. Perhaps at this point you’re thinking, “Really? This is basic; I already do this.” Well you’re right, a thank you is basic. But you’d be surprised by how many organizations don’t thank their donors. A simple hand-written note, phone call or email can go a long way.  I personally appreciate it when a thank you note doesn’t include another ask. Don’t have time? Recruit some volunteers: grateful parents, past recipients, board members, anyone who loves you and is completely psyched that you’re getting donations, regardless of the amount. The more personalized the better. But if that’s too much, even posting a general thank you in your newsletter, website, or social media page is a good idea.

  2. Share your successes. Even if you didn’t meet the internal goal you set for an event, it’s super important to tell your donors how much you raised in as many places as you can: social media, your website, newsletter, etc. Timeliness is important. Don’t have an exact amount? How about using that as an opportunity to share additional details later. For example, “‘Thank you for helping us raise more than $10,000. Final numbers to be released soon.” Donors want to give to successful organizations. If you never share your successes, how will they know? Sharing results also shows transparency, which increases trust in your organization.

  3. Communicate for more reasons than to make “an ask”. The only time you communicate with your donors shouldn’t be when you need something or are having a fundraiser. Be sure you include them in regular communications about what is happening at your organization. They chose you and would love to know the ins and outs of your work. 

The number one point of these three tips? 
Creating great relationships with donors is a process (like any relationship, really). Treat donors well and they’ll continue to give to you. Treat them otherwise and, well, you might just loose them.

We’ll be sharing ideas like these and more in the webinar. Sign up and join us!