Securing repeat donors can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are three things I’d recommend that you focus on this year to create loyalty and build stronger relationships with your current supporters.
1. Share impact stories.
Donors want to know how their money is impacting the community, your cause or the people that they’re supporting—the reason they’re giving money is to make a difference, right? So share those stories. Impact stories make for great blog material, plus regularly adding new content to your website increases its vitality. If I give money to your organization, I want to know that my money is tied very directly to the people you serve and help. So please—tell your supporters exactly what their gifts are accomplishing.
2. Give public recognition.
I talk to so many nonprofits that don’t do this, and I don’t understand why. Many studies have been done on this topic, and it’s always appropriate to publicly thank and recognize people who give money to your organization. You can do it on your website, in your annual report, in your newsletter, you can post it on Facebook or some other social media, on their LinkedIn page—but publicly recognize people in whatever way you can for supporting your organization.
A fascinating little tidbit: People are 80% more likely to give money again next year if they’re publicly recognized. Of course, there may be someone on your list who doesn’t want the recognition, and they’ll tell you. But the vast majority of us want to be publicly recognized. Don’t forget about taking that step.
3. Write a thank-you note.
This is perhaps the most basic and logical step to take after you receive a donation (and something your mamma probably taught you when you were a kid), but it’s fascinating to me how few nonprofit organizations actually follow through on this. Our friends over at Bloomerang conducted a study—they called it the Great Five Dollar Donor Communications Experiment. They mailed $5 donations to 50 nonprofits and then waited to see what came back. Initially, 96% of the organizations sent out an automatic response via email, but only 34% sent them a physical letter saying, “Thank you for the donation.” Only 34%.
They waited, and after several more weeks 6% more sent thank-you notes, but that adds up to only 41%. Only 41% of the organizations they gave to actually sent a thank-you through the mail.
I believe that if the donation itself exceeds the cost of mailing a thank-you note, you should send a letter of thanks. Some people might say, “Well, they only gave $5. These organizations probably don’t send thank-you notes for anything under $50, or some similar amount.” And I say, “Why?” Why would you only send a thank-you note to people who give a certain “acceptable” amount when research shows, over and over, that the supporters who will give you more money in the future are those who gave you money in the past?
Focus on these three things: sharing stories, giving public recognition and saying thank you. You’ll be on the right track to securing repeat donors this year.