4 Tips for Sustaining and Managing Donors

Sustaining and managing donors is vital for better donor retention and improved fundraising ROI.

4 Tips for Sustaining and Managing Donors
9 mins read

It’s much easier (and less expensive) to retain donors than it is to get new supporters.

Donors are the life source for nonprofits. Sustaining them for long periods of time is the best way to increase your revenue. After all, it’s much easier (and less expensive) to retain donors than it is to acquire new supporters. In fact, if nonprofits aren’t careful, the cost of acquiring new donors can be 50-100% more than the dollars contributed by those supporters.

That’s why it’s critically important to develop an effective retention strategy for your supporter base. 

What might that strategy look like? In short, aim for a successful integration of fundraising strategy and technology management.

With this approach, your nonprofit can both retain more donors and win back lapsed donors to help you grow. The specific strategies we’ll touch on to help you reach your donor management goals include:

  1. Call your supporters to action;
  2. Keep data well-organized;
  3. Personalize communications with supporters; and
  4. Optimize your digital presence.

Ready to dive a little deeper into donor retention? Let’s get started!

1. Call Your Supporters to Action

Calling your readers to action doesn’t just mean asking them to donate. In fact, shoot for 7 touchpoints with your supporters between donation asks. However, you do need to keep them engaged in other ways (and on a variety of platforms).

Remember, your donors aren’t ATMs and shouldn’t be treated as such. That means between donation asks, call your donors to action in a variety of ways instead of just continuously asking them to give more money. 

Some of the ways you can market your nonprofit’s various opportunities for involvement include:

  • Find a fundraising platform that easily connects with your website. Look for an all-in-one solution with both fundraising pages and a content management system (“CMS”), or fundraising pages that easily embed directly on your site. This means that on the occasions that you do ask for a donation, it’s easy for supporters to find the right online tool and to give.
  • Post about advocacy opportunities on social media platforms. Action alerts drastically enhance your advocacy campaigns. When you use platforms where people find updates about your organization to also promote opportunities, supporters will take advantage.
  • Set up an email drip stream for new supporters. When someone first gives to your cause, they should receive a “thank you” email. Then other emails may include a resource download containing information about your nonprofit’s mission, a link to register for your upcoming event, or a digital petition they can sign to support the cause.

Remember that less is more and if you share ten calls to action, odds are they’ll do none of them, so focus on one primary ask.

If you’re looking for ideas of what non-financial calls to action may make sense, consider sharing updates on the impact they’ve made possible, requesting in-kind support, promoting advocacy campaigns, events, and volunteer opportunities, or simply inviting them to sign up for your newsletter.

2. Keep Data Well-Organized

Data is the backbone for your nonprofit’s donor communications. However, it can’t be leveraged when it’s not well-organized, which all comes back to having and utilizing a constituent relationship management platform (“CRM”), which is your donor database. Our donor management guide details how choosing the best solution for your nonprofit minimizes human input error, while saving both time and money. That’s because you’ll see a greater ROI when you’re able to streamline more actions and keep everything organized.

In particular, the “donor profiles” are where you’ll store all the data about your supporters. Be sure to obtain and store information such as their:

  • Demographic information
  • Donation and platform preferences
  • Family or business connection details, plus family member names (great way to add a nice personal touch!)
  • Any prospect research or wealth screening details
  • Historic interactions with your nonprofit, including notes from meetings, events attended, volunteer activity, etc.
  • Specific interests, especially as they relate to your mission
  • Employer data and matching gift eligibility

Before you reach out to supporters or segments created based on some shared status (i.e., everyone who attended your recent gala), use the data stored in their donor profiles to ensure you honor their communication preferences and ask for the right donation amounts, which leads us to…

3. Personalize Communications With Supporters 

As I just mentioned, you should use the data in your CRM to personalize donor communications. This will help improve ROI, even if you have limited fundraising manpower or lack other resources.

For instance, be sure to:

  • Use a donor’s preferred name in the salutation
  • Reach out on the platform preferred by the supporter
  • Mention the specific interests of donors in the body of the message
  • Refer to past events attended or opportunities they participated in

By personalizing donor communications, your nonprofit will build stronger relationships with these key supporters. Stronger relationships lead to higher retention rates and larger, more frequent donations. 

Study the data in your donor database before events, too! This will help you more easily deepen connections when you are face-to-face. Some event management software helps you store data about attendees for easy access. If you’re in the market, check out our favorite solutions here.

4. Optimize Your Website

Your nonprofit’s website is typically the focal point of your digital presence, and it’s likely the first place your supporters go to find answers about you. They’ll look for insight into your mission and impact, how to contact you, and how to contribute. Make sure it’s easy for them to find what they need by ensuring the most popular pages are prominent and accessible.

Make your digital presence more valuable for supporters by following these simple tips:

  • Ensure easy-to-use navigation on your website. Include hyperlinked calls to action for contribution opportunities or frequently visited pages on your site. Look at other nonprofit sites to see how they organize everything for inspiration.
  • Make sure each page on your website is mobile-responsive. “Responsive” is a technical term that simply means your site can tell what size screen a visitor has. This ensures your site is accessible no matter from which device your supporters search. As of 2018, around 52.2% of all website traffic comes from smartphones, so we’re not talking about preparing for tomorrow, but rather meeting donors where they are today.
  • Create an easy-to-use donation page. Try to limit it to a single page and don’t ask any unnecessary questions. Snowball Fundraising found that when all additional steps and clicks are removed from donation forms, donor abandonment rates decrease by 20%. So, streamline the contribution process for supporters and make sure you include the necessary white space to guide the reader’s eye on the page.

If you’re unsure if your website is accessible to all devices, run an audit on your site. Try it out on a Mac, a PC, a smartphone, and a tablet at the very least. Be sure to also test out your email campaigns on various devices, too, as at least 50% of emails opened in 2018 were viewed on mobile devices.

If you need some help updating your site and bringing it into the modern, digital age check out Double the Donation’s list of top nonprofit web design companies.

As a nonprofit, retaining donors must be one of your top priorities. Keep them engaged past their first contribution by ensuring all of the information they seek is available and easy to find. And most importantly, don’t wait for them to come to you: optimize ongoing outreach to create a two-way channel of communication. Then, watch your fundraising strategies improve!

About the Author

Leigh Kessler is VP of Marketing and Communications at donor management software platform CharityEngine and a frequent speaker on branding, fundraising, data, and technology.  He is a former nationally touring headline comedian and has appeared on numerous TV shows including VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight,” Discovery Channel & Sirius Radio.​ He has overseen and informed research and branding strategies for some of the most well-known brands in America.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

2 thoughts on “4 Tips for Sustaining and Managing Donors

  1. Donors are really the life source for nonprofits. Without donors, nonprofits are nothing. That’s why it’s important that we should do our best to sustain them. These tips are amazing. I totally agree with all of them.

  2. Donors are really the life source for nonprofits. Without donors, nonprofits are nothing. That’s why it’s important that we should do our best to sustain them. These tips are amazing. I totally agree with all of them.

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