Having spent almost 20 years in the nonprofit sector, with 10 of those years as a fundraiser, I’ve seen a lot about what makes fundraising successful, and what doesn’t. Here are the four best signs that your nonprofit is on the right track. Hopefully you can grab ahold of one or more of these and put them into action!
1. Focusing on donor retention
Donor acquisition is and always will be important. However, successful organizations understand that a small increase in a donor retention percentage can make a huge difference in your fundraising efforts. Maintaining a high percentage of past givers is a much better use of your staff’s time that trying to acquire a new donor. It’s also cheaper.
2. Making the second gift a priority
According to the latest FEP data, new donor retention rates average 22.9%. However, if you can get the second gift, that percentage jumps all the way up to 60.8%.
Properly thanking the donor is the first step towards building a relationship. Go the extra mile and send them a handwritten note, call them personally or set up a time to meet so that you can explain why their gift is so vital.
Not only can it help retain the donor, but it can increase their gift size. According to Penelope Burk, a thank-you call from a board member to a newly acquired donor within 24 hours of receiving the gifts will increase their next gift by 39%.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a second gift quickly, even within 90 days of the first gift. You might be able to set up a small recurring gift, either monthly or annually.
3. Having a top-notch communication strategy
There are many reasons why donors stop giving. According to one of Adrian Sargeant’s studies, here are the most common:
- 5% – thought charity did not need them
- 8% – no info on how monies were used
- 9% – no memory of supporting
- 13% – never got thanked for donating
- 16% – death
- 18% – poor service or communication
- 36% – others more deserving
- 54% – could no longer afford
There is one commonality among most of these: poor communication!
Donors want to be thanked. They want to know how their gift is making a difference. They want to be engaged. If a donor is engaged, their giving will follow! Watch out for these often-missed engagement signals and respond accordingly.
A nonprofit organization that can track engagement is positioned nicely to retain that donor, upgrade that donor and cultivate a major gift.
4. Harnessing technology in their fundraising efforts
Website optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, P2P fundraising and cloud-based apps and tools that eliminate overhead and make things easier for your staff are all vitally important to modern nonprofits. Be sure to keep up on the latest technology by reading blogs, attending webinars and listening to podcasts. There is a wealth of free educational information out there just waiting to be uncovered.
By no means is this an all-inclusive list, but if you’re doing these four things, you’re likely poised for success.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!