5 Tips for Donor Retention in 2022


1. Make Sure Your Thank You is Prompt, Personal and Impactful

The process of building relationships starts with the very first gift. As noted by Mal Warwick, fundraising guru, entrepreneur, and author, in his book, Fundraising When Money is Tight, “Prompt, personalized thank-you notes won’t do the trick alone. It’s important that your donors – especially your most generous and responsive donors – get the feeling that you care about them more than just as sources of cold, hard cash.” According to the research, described in Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value, by Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay, people judge the overall effectiveness of an organization by how they are treated as donors.


You sent the prompt, within 72 hours, thank you. You personalized it. Did you tell a wonderful story regarding how your organization impacted a child, a family, the community, because of the donor’s generosity? This is one simple way to engage the donor; a simple way to tell the donor that their gift made a difference. Tell a story. Most of relationship building with donors will be very small things that communicate appreciation and impact. Over time all the small things will build trust and a strong donor relationship.


2. Call Your Donors

Call the donor within 24 hours of receiving the gift and thank them; leaving a voice message is acceptable. If you have an opportunity to speak with the donor, you can extend an invitation to tour the organization’s site or meet with program staff. In a world flooded with email, the spoken word is significant.


3. Send A Second Thank You via Mail

When is the last time you received a handwritten thank you? Did you automatically open it because it was personally addressed to you? Sending a hand-written note a week or two following receipt of the gift is a great way to express your appreciation and make the individual donor feel like their gift matters (because it does). This can also be a wonderful and impactful task for your board members.


4. Survey Your Donors

It’s 2021, surveys have become a standard for customer success – so why not apply this process to your donors in 2022? Send a 3-5 question survey to engage the donor regarding the organization’s programs and services and the donor’s communication preference. The donor has an opportunity to feel heard and you collect feedback surrounding your programs and services and can use that data to improve donor retention and acquisition.


5. Ensure Equitable Stewardship

While gift amounts may vary, it’s necessary to create policies that allow every donor to feel like their contribution is important. Take some time to write a donor recognition policy that ensures equitable stewardship of all your donors. The policy will help make the process of extending gratitude so that all donors are properly thanked in a timely manner.


A friend of mine gave a gift of $5,000. She did not receive a call nor did she receive a written thank you. When she inquired if her gift was received, she was informed that a thank you would be sent at the end of the year. She is rethinking future donations to the organization.


Closing Thoughts

Most donor relationship building begins with very small things that communicate appreciation and impact. As time passes, all of those small things, a phone call or a personal thank you, will add up and ultimately build trust and a strong donor relationship, as well as improved donor retention numbers.

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