4imprint, LLC

| Updated: September 30, 2020

Recurring donations can be the difference between feast and famine when it comes to nonprofit fundraising. However, donor retention doesn’t come easy. The average nonprofit loses 70 percent of donors after the first gift. Worse yet, only 10 to 15 percent of supporters make five consecutive donations.


It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Simply showing the love can keep your supporters steadfast and loyal. Keep reading for donor retention tips that gain lifelong support and recurring donations.


Donor retention tips

  • Timely acknowledgment: According to a 2013 study, one in three donors say they’re less likely to give a second time to an organization that doesn’t recognize their gift in a timely manner. What’s more, 80 percent indicate prompt and meaningful thank yous, accompanied by results, are more likely to yield recurring donations.


For best results, acknowledge donations within the first couple days by sending a personal note of thanks accompanied by a small gift—Post-it® recognition notes or thank you pens make nice choices. As your campaign comes to a close, you can send a progress update (not to ask for another gift, but to recognize your donors’ role in achieving a goal). Include a personal line such as, “Your donation provided 25 life-saving vaccinations.”


  • Engagement: First-time donors likely give a gift because they care for your cause. Invite the opportunity to further it by recruiting them as volunteers, for committee involvement, for board positions and more. The more closely tied a supporter is to your organization, the more likely he or she is to stick around. Plus, those who volunteer tend to give more than their non-volunteering counterparts.


  • Repetition: Remember, nonprofit fundraising thank yous are not a one and done. Research on gratitude suggests that to have a lasting effect, it must be repeated. Consider holding a donor recognition event such as a luncheon or picnic. Use this time as an opportunity to show thanks, share impact stories and introduce new donors. Provide a small token of gratitude such as a logo’d tote , lunch cooler or tumbler.


  • Rewards: Rewards, especially customized ones, can have a lasting impression. Consider sending first-time donors, volunteers and event attendees a small thank you for their support. A logo’d T-shirt  or sun catcher ornament make nice gifts. You may also consider rewarding recipients with a framed photo of them engaged in volunteering or at an event. Or, perhaps written recognition in a publication or event program.

There are countless other ways to show the love to first-time donors. Try one or more of these, or one of your own, and watch the recurring donations roll in.



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