Effective donor retention and supporter engagement is the key to sustainable fundraising
Fundraising tends to focus on getting the attention of new donors, but what about the people who have already shown support for your cause? During this period of uncertainty and worry for many charities, it’s even more important to pay attention to how loyal supporters are remembered and thanked, how you’re keeping their interest and how their past generosity is being appreciated.
That’s why charities are focusing on donor retention and engagement strategies that encourage people to give more regularly and become the cheerleaders for their cause who will help grow their supporter bases even further.
Here’s how digital can help charities keep those reliable connections and long-term relationships going the most effectively.
The first questions to ask in a donor retention strategy are: What data am I collecting on donors? What can it tell me? How can I collect the right data?
A database containing a list of previous donors is a useful starting point, which can help you determine the donors who have given, the frequency of their donations, and the amount they typically donate. This can be used to work out when best to ask them again, how often, and how much.
You can use the data to target your donors by donation frequency, determining the people who have made one or several one-off donations in the past but not returned, or who have supported your charity in some other way but not donated. Then you can start fine-tuning your communications by segmenting supporters into specific lists such as monthly donors, one-off donors and infrequent donors, for example, and create automated email sends for each group.
Once you have a basic understanding of what you want to communicate to each specific donor group, you can create asks that feel personally aimed at them - and as we’ve covered before, online charity audiences crave the personal approach.
Studies show that one of the biggest cited reasons for donor lapse is the lack of appreciation by the charity. A genuine thank you goes a long way, so get creative with it – digital is a perfect medium for that.
Whatever way you acknowledge an online donation, make it straightforward and heartfelt. Send out an email to people in your list who have donated when you hit a campaign target, thanking donors for contributing towards the success (this is where email segmentation comes to the fore). Some great examples of engaging thank you emails can be found here.
Or you could create a graphic on social media talking about the numbers of supporters who have given and how much, thanking them for the amazing difference they’ve made and tagging those people in the post.
The aim is to make donors feel valued and like they are a part of your success. Share the impact that they made and exactly what was made possible thanks to their contribution, and keep them in the loop with updates. Being as specific as possible with the numbers makes all the difference, outlining how many people have contributed to your campaign, what the goal was, and how many people you will be able to help as a result.
You shouldn’t be shy about keeping in regular communication with your donors. But if your communication strategy is all ’ask, ask, ask’ about money, you can risk leaving your valued donors jaded about your cause.
Instead, being creative about the ways you ask them to get involved can help them feel more valued and give them a sense of belonging and participation as a supporter. Some other ways you can ask your supporters to get involved in your cause include:
The last in the list is what’s known in marketing terms as ’user-generated’ content and it’s proven to be a powerful way to unlock authentic new connection with donors by having your supporters and fans tell their own stories about your cause. It’s interactive, it’s fun and it celebrates them, while giving them a platform to spread the word to other potential supporters.
As Chris Hall, Charity Digital’s Marketing Manager puts it: “Don’t underestimate the power of your audience – within them lies your biggest flag bearers.”
User-generated content on social media can take the form of asking users to:
Don’t forget to include a unique hashtag, which will help increase the reach of your campaign.