One way to earn and retain donors is by focusing on donor cultivation. If you do, those hard-earned donors will be much more likely to stick around. Let's dive into five key tips to help you start earning and retaining more donors today.
5 ways to earn and retain donors
Choose the right donor management software
Make the most of your donation tools
Leverage corporate giving opportunities
Implement smart prospect research methods
Focus on getting the golden donation
1. Choose the right donor management software
As you build up your donors, you’ll want to have a database that stores all their information in one central location. This makes accessing information quickly a breeze. Donor management software is a central hub for personalized information about each and every one of your donors. Nonprofits of all sizes can benefit from using this type of software.
While most nonprofits only include the information donors submit in donation submissions, some organizations include each donation amount. Even though this is a great first step, there’s so much more you can do.
Some additional important donor management software features to look for are:
Donor documents. Save various external documents that relate to each donor. This puts access to usable and personalized info at your fingertips.
Segmented donor groups. Take note of donors’ demographic information on their profiles. By doing this, you can call on certain people for certain tasks such as a location-specific project.
Relationships. Track your relationship with each donor, as well as their relationships with one another and other organizations. For example, if someone is an executive for another nonprofit, take note. Knowing this helps with future outreach coordination.
Notes. Adding notes to a donor’s profile can be a simple, but powerful, reminder of meaningful interactions – either positive or negative. This could include an event incident, meeting notes, or a phone call.
Similarly, fundraising features to look for in your donor management software are:
Streamlined donor data
Direct mail fundraising
When all of your donor data is in one central location, it’s easier to pull this information when planning your fundraising strategies. Your software should offer several tools to create a positive, customized donor experience. By using these tools, you can even expand your online fundraising plan. Discover what tools to look for in your salesforce donor management software.
2. Make the most of your donation tools
An effective donation software can improve donor retention by helping you coordinate outreach. Fundraising software helps your nonprofit raise more money with less effort, freeing up time and money that can be used on the fundraising campaign itself.
By making the most of your donation tools, you’re one step ahead of the competition.
Your donation software should allow you to cleanly store important donor data like:
Amount of the donation that’s tax deductible
Campaign the donations fund
Method of donation
Person of whom the donation is in honor or memory
Not only is using donation software a great way to revamp your fundraising approach, but you can also improve the donor experience with appealing campaign pages, easy-to-use forms, and much more.
3. Leverage corporate giving opportunities
Corporate giving programs are a mutually beneficial opportunity for nonprofits and corporations. These programs are an easy way to boost your organization’s funds, double your volunteers’ contributions, and engage your supporters.
There are 4 main corporate giving programs you should be aware of:
Matching gifts essentially double eligible donations. After a donor makes a contribution, they can submit paperwork to their company. If the donation and your nonprofit are eligible, they’ll send a check for the same amount as the initial donation. An estimated $4-to-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year, so be familiar with these opportunities. While it’s up to donors to submit the paperwork, your nonprofit can help move the process along by educating your donors about these programs.
Volunteer grants are sums of money that companies give to an eligible nonprofit after one of their employees has volunteered a certain number of hours with the organization. There are individual volunteer grants, which reward one employee for their efforts, and team volunteer grants, which are made after a group of employees volunteer for a nonprofit. Volunteer grants can double volunteers’ contributions. Don’t overlook your volunteers; their free time is worth an average of $24.14 an hour.
Corporate grants are donations companies give to an eligible nonprofit of their choice. To receive a corporate grant, nonprofits send grant applications and companies choose from a pool of applicants. Otherwise, companies may simply select a nonprofit on their own.
In-kind donations are products or services that a company offers to nonprofits. Typically, in-kind donations can be along the lines of food and drinks for events, equipment for a project, or free or discounted services relevant to the organization. These donations typically come from companies that have an existing relationship with an organization.
Corporate giving programs are often underutilized due to lack of awareness by donors, volunteers, and even nonprofit professionals. Educating your supporters about these overlooked opportunities maximizes the return of their efforts. Making use of such programs multiplies their contribution and makes them feel more vital to the success of your organization.
These programs don’t require much more effort from supporters aside from brief paperwork. When supporters know their contribution is valued and significant, you re-engage them and form stronger, more loyal, relationships – keeping them for years to come.
4. Implement smart prospect research methods
Prospect research is the process of learning more about your donors from publicly available data and is essential for identifying potential high-impact donors.
It gives you additional insight as to who your donors are and what motivates them to give. No matter what your goals are, any nonprofit can benefit from donor prospect research by saving time and resources and boosting fundraising efforts.
Prospect research tools can measure a donor’s capacity to give, as well as how likely they are to give. These tools go through your donors’ personal backgrounds, measuring individuals’ giving history, wealth indicators, and philanthropic factors.
So, how do you pick the right prospect research software? As with any software, it’s based on your nonprofit’s needs.
Social discovery can reveal specific information about your donors, such as:
Followers and influence
Contact information and photo
These factors indicate affinity capacity, philanthropic interests, and professional stability. When searching for the right prospect research technology, make sure to find one that’s capable of doing a social profile search on current and potential donors.
The more data you gather, the more you’ll know about your donors, including their preferences, affiliations, and so forth. When your donors feel as though you’ve taken the time to get to know them, their loyalty increases, helping you to gain and keep their support.
5. Focus on getting the golden donation
A golden donation is that sought-after second donation. Only 19 percent of new donors give again after their first donation. However, if a donor gives a second time, 63 percent will give again.
The process for securing a second donation is fairly straightforward and may align with some of your nonprofit’s existing practices:
Have a first-time donor communications strategy. Welcome your new donors and inquire about their experiences through surveys. Use this feedback to improve your communications strategy, in turn, making them feel respected.
Thank your donors. The quicker you respond to your first-time donors, the more likely they’ll be to interact with your future correspondences. Aim to respond within 48 hours through an email, a phone call, a text, or social media. To thank in a more thoughtful way, try a handwritten letter or a photograph of the work their money supports.
Ask for non-monetary donations. People want to put their skills to use, so take advantage of the opportunity. If you have a project that requires non-financial assistance, bring it to their attention by promoting your advocacy opportunities.
Deliver on your promises. If you say you’ll do something, do it, and do it in a timely manner. If you promise a gift like a mug or t-shirt, make sure they get it within a couple weeks. If you promise to keep donors updated on projects they contribute to, update them regularly. Donors respond well to consistency.
Ask for the golden donation. If you don’t ask for it, you’ll never get it! Don’t ask too soon because you’ll seem greedy. Don’t wait too long because their contact information may change or you may fall out of touch. Send them the tools they need to donate, and base it on how they donated the first time. Remember to always, always thank them.
The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019 reveals first-time donor’s behavior patterns and exposes the value of recurring donors. Recurring donors are over five times more valuable than one-time donors. They actively give to prove their investment, and you don’t want to lose these valuable supporters.
Remember to choose the right donor management software, use donation tools, leverage corporate giving opportunities, do smart prospect research, and focus on getting recurring donations. Retaining donors is something many nonprofits fail to do properly. Put these strategies to use and you’ll be on your way to keep their support for years to come.
Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, a fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization, and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.