How to Retain More Digital Donors

Last week I was able to attend the Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference in Boston. I’m excited to share with you some of the most valuable information I learned. One of my favorites was a session about retaining digital donors presented by Steven Shattuck of Bloomerang. He had some interesting data and straight-forward advice that can be easily implemented by any nonprofit, so let’s dive in.

First of all, we all know that donor retention is important. As a sector, we lose over half of the donors that support us every year (57%) and first time donor retention is only 19%. But, if you can engage a donor to make a second gift, that retention rate goes up to 63%!

Here’s what we know: donors leave because they don’t feel appreciated by the organization and don’t feel they heard about the impact of their gift. How can we change that? Start by improving these three things:

1. Thank You Page: This is the page your donor is automatically directed to after making a donation. It may sound obvious, but make sure your thank you page does ALL of the following: tells the donor the gift was processed, says thank you, communicates impact, previews future communications, i.e. “we’ll be sending a tax receipt in the mail” or “watch for our quarterly newsletter,” and gives them something to do next – like provide a link to another part of the website or a short video.

2. Email Confirmation: This email is important and should do all of the things listed above AND more. Make sure it arrives quickly. Use an eye-catching subject line like “You just changed a life” instead of “Donation receipt.” In fact, remove the word receipt altogether. Send it from an email they can respond to, not Again, engage them with something to do next: watch a video, link to your web site, or submit their donation for a matching gift.

3. Formal Acknowledgment: This letter or email needs to be sent within 48 hours. This needs to be personalized and include tax information. Adding a handwritten note or signature can go a long way. If the donor gave you a phone number, ask a board member to give them a thank you call in addition to this letter.

First time donors who get a personal thank you within 48 hours are four times more likely to give a second time, and even a 1% increase in retention can make a huge difference to your bottom line. Try these tips, and let me know how it goes! Oh, and if you want more detail on the stats and steps listed above, check out the free ebook on this same topic from Bloomerang.

Posted in Individual Giving

What Are Your Donors Thinking?

Have you ever read a Burk Donor Survey Report? I find them fascinating. This is the sixth annual research project studying the philanthropy habits of Americans and specifically how they feel about fundraising practices used by nonprofits. It’s an opportunity to find out what donors think about what we’re doing – AND – an opportunity to find out how we can raise more money.

To give you a taste for the information included, I wanted to summarize some of the findings. But first, you should know The Burk Donor Survey asks donors questions about giving and compares those results to previous surveys to establish trends. The results for 2014 included 16,847 donors (57% female) of various ages. Here’s some of what they learned:

Online giving, recurring (monthly) giving, and sponsoring participants in athletic-type fundraising events are all increasing in popularity, as is giving through social media (especially with donors under 35).

– 57% of donors spend more time today than 5 years ago researching organizations before making a gift, and the main source of information is the your nonprofit’s website!

– 69% say they are more likely than 5 years ago to favor organizations that provide measurable results on what is being achieved with donors’ gifts

– 47% of respondents said that the non-profit that earned their most generous support was “confidence that the organization would achieve good results.”

– Donors said they would give again and give more generously to a nonprofit that “acknowledged their first gift promptly and in a meaningful way
and reported their progress in measurable terms before asking for another gift.”

This last point is the key finding in the Burk Donor Surveys and something all of us can likely do better! Get your copy of the free executive summary or the full report here.

Posted in Individual Giving

A Fundraising Gift for You…

Happy Holidays! I hope you are enjoying time with your families and not working too many hours trying to bring in those last minute gifts. I’ll keep it short, but as my little gift to you I wanted to share with you some fundraising ideas to try, if you haven’t already.

#donate – Have you seen this yet? This is being used on Facebook and Twitter. Donors can read your post and comment #donate. They are given a link to sign up on GoodWorld and enter their payment information. The next time they want to donate, they simply comment #donate with an amount and it’s done automatically. It’s great because once they are signed up it’s a super fast transaction that doesn’t involve lots of steps (read: more donors complete the transaction).

Donate button on Facebook – Do you have a donate button on your organization’s Facebook page? It’s simple to add one. First, you have to have a page (not a personal profile). Next, you change your “call to action” button from “contact us” to “donate now.” Anyone reading your page can click this button to be directed to the donation page on your web site. See how it works here:

Accept Car Donations – Have you told your donors that you can accept a car donation? You can! You won’t believe how easy it is if you haven’t done it already. There are several companies you can work with and most of they do not charge the non-profit for the service. You just register your organization with the company and tell your supporters. The donor calls the company and designates you as the recipient, the company picks up the car and sells it, then they send you a check less expenses. One of my favorites is, but there are other services too.

I hope this was helpful! Have a wonderful holiday season and happy fundraising in 2016!

Posted in Individual Giving