3 Ways to Keep Your Donors Coming Back
According to the “2018 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Study” released by NonProfit PRO and MobileCause, “Donor loyalty is a priority area of focus for nonprofits, which was rated as the most important outcome when measuring their organization’s annual success.” Retaining donors is a big deal.
So, what influences donors to come back year after year to your organization? Let’s take a look at the top three reasons donors cite for giving in the "2017 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth", and how you can use this knowledge to keep your donors loyal to your organization.
1. Belief in the Mission of the Organization
Probably the most obvious motivation for donors to give is when your organization’s area of focus matches their values. Are you providing college scholarships for students who wouldn’t be able to attend college otherwise? Are you providing clean water for families with limited access to this essential resource? What impact are you having in the world or in your community?
While you can’t control what types of causes resonate with potential donors, you can make certain they clearly understand your mission. Reinforce your mission throughout your donor cultivation and solicitation process. You’ll need to articulate why your mission is important and how it is different from others doing similar work. Clearly communicating these elements will help you stay top of mind and is critical to gaining and retaining donors’ dollars.
2. Belief My Gift Can Make a Difference
It is incumbent to determine, define and detail how a gift makes a difference. You should be clear on the specific impact a donor’s contribution makes. Will a certain contribution level send a student to college? Will it provide six months of clean water for a family? What is the specific impact the donor will have through their contribution? When making a case for a funding opportunity, you must always articulate exactly how that gift makes a difference toward the cause the donor is passionate about.
3. Personal Satisfaction
How do you measure or drive donor satisfaction? When you consider the givers’ motivating factor, realize that the degree to which a donor derives personal satisfaction is dependent upon the degree to which that gift makes a difference. (See No. 2 above.) Follow up with a thank-you letter from the student the donor impacted or show them a photo of the family enjoying their clean water. A sense of personal satisfaction will increase when a donor sees the impact they are having toward a cause they care about.
If you are doing these three things well, you are setting yourself up for a high degree of donor retention. When their values align with your clearly stated mission, you communicate the impact their contribution will have and you demonstrate how their contribution has made that impact, you dramatically increase the likelihood that the donor will make a gift next year.
The opposite is also true. If you fail to remind your donors of your mission and the impact they are having/can have toward the cause, you are likely to lose their support. With so many nonprofits vying for their attention, you must remain top of mind with your donor base.
Not only is it helpful to know why your donors give, it’s also important to understand how these reasons impact your communication with them. Communicate clearly with your donors and never underestimate the power of a follow-up with information that demonstrates both your appreciation and how their specific contribution made an impact. Doing this will help ensure donors keep coming back year after year.
Arthur Criscillis, EdD, is a managing partner at Alexander Haas, Inc., a leading campaign consulting firm. Arthur has over 25 years of development and nonprofit experience specializing in colleges and universities. Consistently garnering the highest accolades for his speaking, including the CASE Crystal Apple Award, Arthur has chaired the CASE Conference on Major Gift Solicitation six times and the CASE Conference on Successful Annual Giving Strategies twice.