If you’re like most ministry executives, one of the greatest challenges you face is donor retention from one year to the next. You need to look no further than a few key statistics to see the problem many ministries face:
- A shockingly low 45% donor “retention” rate for all nonprofit organizations combined! (According to the Association for Fundraising Professionals)
- In a recent study of one ministry sector, Advocace found that the retention rate was 60%.
- In this same study, ministry executives ranked “retaining current donors” as the second highest fundraising challenge they face.
- One study of donors found that nearly half who stopped giving to a nonprofit did so because they didn’t feel appreciated or needed.
Donor Retention Ideas to Thank Donors
One of the best ways to retain donors is to thank them for their gifts. And I mean REALLY thank them. So often in the whirlwind of ministry activities, it’s easy for leaders to add a simple thank you in a donor communication such as a solicitation or receipt letter or even in an email. It’s common for those “Thank Yous” to come across as obligatory.
Here are 5 helpful donor retention ideas to thank your donors:
- Saturate your donor communications with thankfulness. Repeatedly thank them. Let them know the recipients of your ministry would like to thank them for their gifts.
- Tell donors how their gifts impact the lives of those the ministry is serving. Donors feel thanked and appreciated when they know their gifts are making a difference.
- Assign staff members and volunteers to call donors to thank them. If they make calls during the day, they will get a lot of voicemail messages. That’s okay—thanking donors even by voicemail has a powerful impact. When they talk to a donor live, offer to pray for the donor, and coach callers to include in their prayer thanksgiving for the donor’s support.
- Send at least one special thank you letter to donors every year. One of the best times to do that is right after New Year, summarizing their giving in the previous year and reminding them what a difference they are making in the lives of many needy people. When possible, add a short, personalized note at the end. Oh yes, DON’T include a reply card with an ask!
- Send donors a small gift as a concrete way of expressing thanks. Most donors don’t expect you to spend a lot of money on such gifts, but those gifts speak volumes about your gratitude.
Tip: With your staff devote a whole meeting to assessing how well you are thanking donors throughout the year. Brainstorm ways to improve your ministry’s donor retention by thanking your donors.