Finding people who will support your school fundraiser is already a challenging task. However, retaining the donors and keeping them motivated to regularly support your cause is even tougher.
Truth be told, non-profits everywhere are struggling to maintain their donor retention rates. Less than half of donors give the following year again. Over 60% of first-time donors are unlikely to give again.
This begs the question: How do you motivate and retain donors?
Ultimately, nothing beats having a group of donors willing to keep contributing to your mission. This is why businesses invest so much to retain old customers.
The number of donors is on the decline, so you need to be spot-on in your appeals for donations. You must get your tone and approach right to recruit donors and keep them giving.
That is easier said than done.
Don’t lose hope. Read on as we take you through ways to motivate your donors and keep them interested in donating to your causes while supporting your mission.
They say the first impression is the lasting impression. This also applies to impressing, motivating, and retaining donors. The first experience donors will have with the fundraising process will most likely determine if they will make another contribution. It is, therefore important that you make the donation process as easy and as smooth as possible.
For example, the donation forms should be short and precise. You should only ask for the essentials to make it easy for donors to make their contributions. Additionally, make the donation process quick and avoid making donors create accounts before they can donate. This only makes the process tedious and discourages donors.
While at it, set up multiple donating channels so your donors can choose the most convenient one. The quicker and easier the process, the likelier you are to retain those donors.
When donors respond to a fundraising appeal, they are often left wondering whether their money is efficiently utilized and if it helped achieve the intended goal.
They want to know their money didn’t disappear into thin air. If they don’t see how their money is being used, they are unlikely to make another donation in the future.
To prevent such a situation:
Showing your gratitude should be an obvious part of any donor retention strategy, yet it is the one aspect that is ignored by many. Studies have shown that not being told ‘thank you” is the number one reason donors choose not to contribute again.
Anyone giving out their money for whichever cause expects a simple word of gratitude. However, you can ramp up your ‘thank yous’ by adding a personal flavor to make the donor feel special and, most importantly, appreciated for their contribution.
For example, you can send them a handwritten note. This will establish the connection between the donor and the people behind your institution. Whenever possible, make sure donations are followed up by personalized messages. Alternatively, you can send them a tailored thank-you email. These may seem small details, but they make the donor feel like an esteemed partner in a worthy mission.
In a school setting, students should be involved with your fundraising efforts. Consider letting the students who benefit from the fundraiser’s goal write thank you notes to the donors. This is good practice for students in the process of writing and it will help solidify the connection of your fundraiser to its donors.
This is a continuation of the above strategy. Besides sending them personalized thank you messages, appreciating your donor is a great way to turn a one-time donor into a long-term contributor. You can send them a special card or, finances permitting, a small gift to appreciate them for their monetary contribution. This will encourage them to make contributions in the future.
If you don’t have the money to buy gifts, see if you can locate some school-branded items such as car decals, t-shirts, or other items which could be given to donors.
Your donor retention strategy must involve a plan to gather feedback from donors. Some donors appreciate opportunity to tell you about their experience with your fundraiser. Always analyze the feedback for ways you can improve in future fundraising campaigns. Listening to your donors makes them feel like an integral part of the organization, but they may also suggest ideas that you will find worthy of implementation.
When you allow your donors to speak out, they become more invested and are more likely to contribute to future fundraising endeavors. You can hold [virtual] feedback meetings, create surveys, or online discussions. Remember to thank the donors for their opinions. Additionally, assure them that you plan to use the feedback. Make two-way communication traffic, and you will have yourself a group of motivated donors.
Donors are not cash cows. Besides their monetary contributions, they want to have firsthand experience of whichever activities you are conducting. Allowing them to volunteer is an excellent opportunity for them to use their skills for your institution’s (and society’s) benefit. They will have fun and bridge the gap that comes with simply giving their money and not getting that firsthand involvement.
Another great strategy for retaining donors is a membership program. It allows you to offer incentives and perks to donors in exchange for their contributions. You may also ask the donors what they’d want in exchange for the membership. This will not only keep the donors motivated, it makes them more personally invested in your school’s fundraising mission.
The above strategies are not the only ones to motivate and retain donors, but they are an excellent place for you to start. By focusing on a good donor experience, showing gratitude, allowing donors to volunteer, retaining open communication, creating a membership program, and showing them the impact of their donations, you will be creating a solid foundation for future collaborations.