In my last post, I wrote about the importance of welcoming your new donors and keeping them happy so they won’t leave after one year, as many do. But it’s equally important to show the love to your current donors.
You may think your most valuable donors are the ones who give the most money, but what about the people who have supported your organization for three, five, or even ten years? These are your valuable donors, considering repeat donor retention rates are about 65%.
Pay attention to your retention
Donor retention often takes a backseat to finding new donors. That doesn’t make much sense since an “easier” way to raise revenue is to get your current donors to give again and give at a higher level.
This won’t happen if you ignore your donors or only communicate when you ask for money. Yes, you’ll need to find new donors, but spend more time keeping the ones you already have.
Before your next big appeal figure out your retention rate A Guide to Donor Retention, and how long each donor has supported you.
This is your first step to help you keep your current donors. Here’s what else you need to do.
Stay on your donors’ good side
I know you’re swamped trying to get your year-end appeal out, but this is not the time to scale back on your donor communication. Continue to send your newsletter and other updates. Keep them donor-centered.
Send a special note of gratitude this fall, maybe a month or so before you send your year-end appeal.
Personalize your appeal letters and thank you letters. Your donors have names, so don’t address them as Dear Friend.
I’m a big fan of the Whiny Donor (@thewhiny donor). In the following post she describes how she’s been supporting her alma mater for 24 years and in turn received a thank you letter with the salutation Dear [College] Supporter. That prompted her to stop giving. You’re bound to blow it with a donor or two…This may not happen to you, but why risk it.
Don’t send the same generic letter to everyone. You must recognize past gifts. Thank donors for their past gift in your appeal letter and a repeat gift in your thank you letter.
While on the personal theme, make sure your letters sound like they’re written by a human, not a robot.
Pour on the gratitude
Thank you phone calls and handwritten notes always trump a pre-printed letter. I realize you may not have the resources to call or send cards to all your donors. Figure out what you can do, but if you have donors that have supported you for more than two years, that s a big deal, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Find board members, other staff, and volunteers to help. Perhaps you can only call donors who have given for at least three years.
If you do need to send a pre-printed thank you letter, again make it warm and personal.
You’ve only just begun
Stay in touch throughout the year. Continue to show gratitude and let your donors know how they’re helping you make a difference.
Give your donors the royal treatment, so they’ll stay with you for many years.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis