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Retaining Donors: Create a System for Expressing Gratitude

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It’s well-known within the nonprofit world that the second present, generally even known as “the golden present,” is when donor retention charges begin to rise. So why do donors proceed to provide to your nonprofit after their first present? Or conversely, why achieve this many first-time donors not give once more?

The reply might be so simple as not making a follow-up request in a well timed method. Or possibly some donors at all times supposed to only give the one time. Whereas causes fluctuate, one query nonprofits ought to at all times ask themselves after a donation is: Did we thank them?

A easy thank you possibly can go a good distance towards persuading donors to come back again. In any case, it’s discouraging to donate your hard-earned cash to what you’re feeling is a worthwhile trigger and by no means hear something again. Donors are left questioning how their presents had been used or if the nonprofit even acquired or wanted them in any respect.

Keep away from this state of affairs and keep away from overcomplicating the thank-you course of by creating techniques for expressing gratitude. Utilizing a system means that you can determine the way you’ll thank donors upfront, slightly than making a separate determination for each donation that involves your group.

How do techniques of expressing gratitude work and why do they matter for retaining donors? Let’s discover out.

Why does retaining donors matter?

In case your nonprofit is constantly attracting new donors, does it actually matter if you happen to retain them after their preliminary present? Sure! Attracting new donors prices time and assets even if you happen to’re utilizing low-cost or free nonprofit advertising and marketing instruments. It’s far cheaper to pay that price as soon as and have a donor make a number of presents than to pay it again and again for every present.

Retaining donors could also be cheaper, however how cost-effective is it to thank each donor? Put plainly, in case your group depends in any half on donors, it’s best to share your gratitude with them. You couldn’t do what you do with out their assist!

As fundamental as that’s, some organizations nonetheless have a look at every present and surprise if they need to thank the donor. When making a system of gratitude, it’s regular to have questions like:

  • Is that this present giant sufficient to warrant a thanks?
  • Are we spending extra mailing a thank-you word than we’re getting from the donation?
  • Who’s the appropriate particular person to thank?

Ask these questions when first crafting your system of gratitude, not each time a supporter donates. Establishing tips and following them removes the time and power spent remaking these choices, permitting you to understand donors sooner.

Bonus: Ship your thank-you messages along with donation receipts. Reward acknowledgments are essential communication, however they need to be separate from thank-you messages.

Parts of a System of Gratitude

Techniques of expressing gratitude are helpful, however what truly goes into them? Primarily, these techniques have two elements: donor appreciation tiers and donor appreciation strategies.

Donor Appreciation Tiers

It’s best to thank all your donors. Whether or not they’re giving $100 or $10, they made an effort to assist your nonprofit, and whereas small presents might not change the trajectory of your mission, these donations had been nonetheless seemingly significant for the individuals who made them.

That being mentioned, some donors do require going the additional mile in terms of exhibiting your appreciation. The way you divide donor tiers relies on which supporter teams you’re focusing on and your nonprofit’s common donation quantity. Nevertheless, many nonprofits will discover it worthwhile to create a system of expressing gratitude with tiers much like these:

  • New donors. Your appreciation for brand spanking new donors will significantly affect their first impression of your nonprofit. Make it a optimistic one by expressing gratitude with a immediate and interesting message. When you would possibly fluctuate your technique primarily based on how a lot a brand new donor gave, reminiscent of calling slightly than emailing donors who give over $100, have particular messages prepared that thank donors, present details about your nonprofit, and welcome them to your group.
  • Mid-level donors. Mid-level recurring donors present dependable assist month to month. For these donors, thank-you messages must be about sustaining and constructing the connection to slowly get them to extend their assist.
  • Main donors. Main donors want way over a heartfelt e-mail for them to proceed giving to your nonprofit. When a serious donor makes a contribution, be ready to go all out. This would possibly contain sending a letter, calling them on the cellphone, and arranging a time to fulfill to thank them in particular person.
  • Volunteers. Volunteers aren’t donors—although a few of them can simply change into donors with the appropriate technique—however they nonetheless deserve a thanks all the identical. Fundraising Letter’s information to volunteer appreciation factors out that many donor retention methods additionally apply to volunteer retention. There’s no must reinvent the wheel on your volunteer appreciation technique, so reuse your system for expressing gratitude to donors on your volunteers and make just a few tweaks the place needed.

Whereas sorting donors into tiers will assist you to method supporters as teams, take heed to particular person preferences. For instance, take donor communication preferences under consideration so that you keep away from texting thank-you messages to donors who solely wish to hear from you through e-mail.

Donor Appreciation Strategies

How will you specific gratitude to the donors in every of the teams you simply created? Donor appreciation strategies fluctuate broadly, and listed below are 5 to contemplate so as of how strongly they’re prone to come throughout:

  1. Computerized thank-you messages. Computerized thank-you emails require no enter out of your staff after their preliminary setup. They’re the quickest technique to let donors know their present was acquired and the way a lot you recognize it.
  2. eCards. Elevate your e-mail thanks’s with eCards. eCards are basically greeting playing cards despatched via e-mail, textual content, or social media, full with enjoyable visuals and a message out of your nonprofit. The one main variations are they’re digital and far sooner than snail mail. eCardWidget’s information on the way to thank donors exhibits off wonderful examples of eCards:
  3. Telephone calls. Have a fast one-on-one dialog by giving your donors a name. Put together a script and be able to reply widespread questions donors might have.

This image depicts four example thank-you eCards that nonprofits can send as part of their systems for expressing gratitude.This image depicts four example thank-you eCards that nonprofits can send as part of their systems for expressing gratitude.

  1. Donor occasions. Invite your donors to get collectively to have a good time a profitable marketing campaign, 12 months of fundraising, or anything. These occasions will be digital, small lunch get-togethers, or total formal galas.
  2. Donor partitions. Immortalize your donors’ contributions by establishing a donor wall that lists the names of your high funders. These monuments are historically bodily constructions, however interactive, digital donor partitions have been gaining reputation.

Whereas a few of these strategies might appear to be a variety of work, consider expressing gratitude as simply one other step in your donor retention course of. In any case, following up is the way you basically shut the loop on a donor journey and encourage them to work their approach towards making a second present.


Retaining donors is about constructing relationships with supporters so that they proceed to assist you year-over-year. Make your advertising and marketing stand out by expressing real appreciation and keep away from getting caught in determination paralysis by implementing a system of gratitude.

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