Tips to Retaining Different Kinds of Donors
Donor retention is a huge issue for every nonprofit organization. Given the cost of acquisition of individual donors — not to mention major donors — it’s important that organizations properly steward current donors so that they’ll feel compelled to continue giving.
This is the focus of the book “Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value,” by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay. In order to succeed in retaining donors, Sargeant and Jay advise that organizations proactively plan their retention strategies, which “involves far more than simply devising the communications that donors will receive” (Page 171). What kind of relationship will your organization have with each group of donors? How will you deliver and deepen these relationships over time?
Sargeant and Jay recommend different retention strategies depending on the method by which a donor gives. Monthly givers, regular givers and single-gift givers, for example, should be treated differently from one another.
* Major donors. These retention programs often are carried out by specially selected staff, board members or volunteers who have a personal relationship with the donor. They should receive a personal level of stewardship and recognition that involves face-to-face contact. Donor involvement is key.
“Occasionally the same event invitations, feedback vehicles and special appeals may be sent to major givers and to lower-level donors, but major givers generally receive an enhanced or more highly personalized version of the package,” the authors write (Page 87).
* High-value donors. These typically are donors who have given above the average gift levels but are not considered major givers. Sargeant and Jay recommend a retention program that “educates them about the cause and guides them toward a planned or major gift.” Focus on areas in which they’ve shown an interest, invite them to events, and send them courtesy and feedback mailings.