You can’t grow as a nonprofit if your donor database is stagnant or declining. According to Bloomerang, the cost of continually getting new donors can be 50 to 100 percent more than the amount you collect from them. As a matter of fact, with limited donors it can take years to break even.
This is why it’s important to ensure consistent growth of your donor database. This can be achieved by retaining existing donors and adding new ones. Not only will it help you save money in the long run, but also aid in the sustainability of your nonprofit.
The 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report indicated that donor retention is at 45.5% and donor attrition (the rate at which an organization loses donors) at 55%. A higher retention rate means people believe in your cause and that you have a good onboarding strategy that makes people commit to your organization.
In this article, we will look at six strategies that can help you improve your donor retention rate and grow your donor database.
Strategies to grow your existing donor database
1. Plan engaging online fundraisers with raffles and sweepstakes
A sustainable fundraising strategy requires that you have diverse revenue sources. And one of the most effective methods for getting revenue while also engaging donors is through online charitable games such as 50/50 raffles and Catch the Ace.
- 50/50 Raffles: This is a raffle conducted online where the pot, made up of 50% of ticket sales, is given to the winner of the draw. The remaining 50% goes to the nonprofit organization. As more tickets are sold, the pot grows larger, which can attract even more donors. Most nonprofits who run 50/50 raffles do them month after month.
- Catch the Ace: This is a weekly online raffle that can run for up to 52 weeks or until the Ace is discovered. Each week, a winning ticket receives a percentage of the week’s proceeds from ticket sales. At the same time, the winner gets to choose a card from a deck of playing cards for the progressive (cumulative) jackpot. If the card selected is not the Ace of Spades, that card is removed from the deck and the progressive prize portion of the ticket sales for that draw is rolled over into the progressive jackpot for the next scheduled draw. This means the progressive pot keeps growing until the Ace of Spades is caught. If the card is the Ace of Spades, the winner then also wins the progressive jackpot. 50 percent of all proceeds from ticket sales go to the nonprofit.
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The best part with these games and why they have become so popular is that they are highly attractive. Donors get the chance to win huge sums of money while supporting a charitable cause.
As internet usage becomes widespread, online charity raffles are expected to soar in popularity. It’s easy to get started and the financial commitment is usually minimal when compared to other types of fundraisers.
2. Implement a monthly donation program
New donor retention rates average less than 23%. But according to The Non-Profit Recurring Giving Benchmark study, monthly giving donors have a retention rate of 90%. So if you want to grow your donor database, convince your current donors to get on a monthly giving program.
And the best part is that the average monthly online donation is $52 (which equals $624 a year). On the other hand, the average one-time gift is only $128. So, not only will you have a reliable source of income with monthly giving, but you will have more funds to work with.
The real trouble, however, lies in convincing your donors to get on your monthly giving program. One way is to showcase the impact of the donation. You need to reassure your donors that donating monthly is the best way to help you fulfill your cause.
Unicef’s website is a great example of this, detailing how “$20 a month can buy warm blankets for 3 children” or how “$50 can provide diapers and vaccines for a new born baby.”
Also, another thing is to ensure you are asking the right people. You need to focus on people who have already donated. Offer them a chance to upgrade to monthly giving.
3. Communicate regularly with your donors
It’s ideal to think of every first donation as a test. Perhaps the person was given a bonus at work and stumbled upon your organization or a friend may have recommended your nonprofit. So, regard this as a discovery process. The donor hasn’t yet committed to your cause yet.
This is why communication is very important. You should begin by mapping a welcome journey for your donors. After they donate, start by thanking them for the donation, usually via email. Personalize the email with their name and mention the donation amount. Also, make it clear how the donation will be used. Never send a bland email like “payment received.”
From there, you need to have an onboarding sequence or flow. You can have a range of content from videos to articles—all aimed at teaching the donor more about what you do.
Apart from this, you can also share regular updates on noteworthy events by your organization. Not communicating is one of the biggest reasons donors leave, thinking their contribution doesn’t matter or not knowing if their money is being used right.
4. Leverage social media
Statistics indicate that 55% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media always end up taking some form of action, it could be donating or signing up for your newsletter.
This is why nonprofits shouldn’t ignore social media marketing. Make sure you post a variety of engaging content. And don’t ask for a donation in every post or you will wear out your donors. Share updates, promote upcoming events and give a shout out to your most loyal donors. This is what social media is all about—building relationships, engagement and a supportive community with your followers.
5. Optimize your donation page
A donation page is usually one of the few points that represents meaningful contact between you and your donors. Also, it happens to be one of the most visited pages. This is why you should be strategic about it. Don’t treat it as a mere payment form.
First, focus on crafting a compelling “why.” Test different messages to figure out the one that your audience responds to best. Apart from this, you should also consider having suggested donation amounts. You could also highlight one of the donation amounts as the default. This is a marketing technique called anchoring and it will make donors consider the amount you have recommended first.
As for branding, keep the donation page consistent with the rest of your website and avoid taking people to a different website during the donation process. This helps build trust and assures donors that the transaction is secure.
Most importantly, the page must be mobile-friendly. Mobile browsing is increasing, with half of all nonprofit website traffic being mobile. Mobile donations are increasing too. According to online giving trends by the Blackbaud Institute, in 2020, 28% of online donations were made on mobile devices.
6. Analyze existing donor data to predict future donor behavior
A big part of having a donor database isn’t just so you can ask for donations. But to use the data to understand what it is telling you so you can make better decisions on how you can get more donors and retain them.
For instance, every nonprofit wants to bring in more donors. But how you do that matters. What works for others might not work for you. This is why you should take the time to understand the fundraising methods and messaging that work optimally for you and your audience.
All these approaches will together ensure that you are focusing on activities that will allow you to achieve the results you desire without wasting resources.
Using your donor data, you can answer some of these very important questions:
- I’m I targeting the right donors?
- I’m I asking for donations at the right time and in the right way?
- Are my fundraising goals realistic?
- What is my fundraising capacity?
Every good fundraising strategy should ensure that you are retaining the donors you have already won while at the same time persuading new donors to become your regular supporters. This is key to having a healthy nonprofit.