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.