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4 ways to boost donor retention with your digital strategy

July 15, 2021
Two colleagues working with documents and laptops while sitting in an office decide how to boost donor retention with their digital strategy.

As is the case with most nonprofit organizations, one of your top objectives is to improve donor retention rates. While it’s important to continually earn donations from new supporters, it’s your repeat donors who provide fundraising stability and long-term support.

You can use your digital strategy to improve your donor retention rates by taking a more deliberate approach to donor data management, communications, and stewardship. Let's dive into the strategies that will help you reach the right people with the right message and retain digital donors. 

Segment donors to focus outreach

When reaching out to donors, make sure you’re sharing relevant information that your supporters are likely to respond to. You can better engage your audience by only sending supporters messages that are relevant to them, such as introductory information to new donors.

This is where donor segmentation comes into play. This is the process of organizing donors based on their shared characteristics. Segmentation allows your fundraising and marketing teams to learn more about groups within your audience and communicate in ways that resonate with each segment. DNL OmniMedia recommends segmenting donors based on their:

  • Engagement history: You may have groups of supporters who are volunteers, donors, peer-to-peer fundraisers, or advocates. Creating segments based on engagement type allows you to deliver each group relevant information, such as sending upcoming volunteer opportunities to volunteers or peer-to-peer fundraising information to campaign participants.
  • Gift type: You may have first-time donors, monthly donors, major donors, or year-end donors. Segmenting donors by gift type allows you to reference their past contributions to create more personalized messaging.
  • Gift amount: Asking for an appropriate amount increases the likelihood of a donor giving again. Let’s say you create segments for donors who’ve contributed smaller, medium-sized, and large gifts for your organization. Using this distinction, you can send solicitations of $25 or less to the donors in the smaller gift segment, and save your $1,000+ asks for your major donors.
  • Demographics: Segments based on demographics, such as age, gender, and location, can help you share relevant opportunities with each supporter. For instance, you can send your younger supporters information via social media and create direct mail materials for your older audience.
  • Engagement level: You likely have a group of lapsed donors—those who gave in the past but haven’t for a while—as well as those who give more regularly. By segmenting these groups, you can create one strategy for bringing lapsed donors back into the fold and another for building relationships with regular supporters.
  • Preferred communication channels: Reaching out to donors via channels they use regularly is more likely to elicit a response from them. For example, you may have one segment of supporters that prefers communicating via email and has a history of engaging with your weekly newsletter. Going forward, you’ll know to focus your communications with this group on your email platform.

To make the most of donor segmentation, ensure you’re starting with a clean, updated database and integrated software solutions that provide a full picture of your organization’s supporters. This is drastically easier to do with a comprehensive CRM. As you develop your segmentation strategy, feel free to change your groups based on your organization’s shifting goals.

If you feel like you don’t have the proper foundation to successfully implement segmentation, it’s helpful to partner with a nonprofit consulting firm that specializes in data-driven fundraising.

Optimize your digital communication channels

Your communication channels are an essential aspect of your overall nonprofit digital and donor retention strategy. Strengthen your relationships with supporters by reaching them across multiple digital channels and showing them a variety of calls to action. 

Consider these communication channels and how to leverage them to drive engagement:

  • Your organization’s website: This is the online hub for your current and prospective supporters to find information on how to get involved. Make sure your website is user-friendly and has obvious links to your online donation page, volunteer sign-up page, and other pertinent information.
  • Email marketing: If your organization has an email newsletter, use it to share frequent updates on your projects and progress made toward your goals. Use engaging imagery and interactive links to draw recipients in and encourage them to learn more about your organization.
  • Social media platforms: Using popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, you can engage a wider audience in your purpose. This is also a great channel to launch supporter recognition efforts. You can share photos from fundraising or volunteer events and highlight major donor contributions with their permission.
  • Surveys: Engage supporters in a two-way conversation by asking for their feedback and opinions. Surveys are an effective way to gauge the success of various fundraising or volunteer efforts and solicit feedback for hosting better events in the future. When you listen to and implement supporters’ feedback, you demonstrate your willingness to work with them and develop a stronger relationship.

Use each of your communication platforms to enhance one another for a more cohesive strategy. For example, you can promote blog posts from your organization’s website across your social media platforms or include social media widgets in your email newsletter. The more active you are with your engagement efforts, the more touchpoints you’ll create with your supporters, keeping your organization at the front of their minds.

Offer multiple ways to get involved

Using your segmentation strategies, you can connect volunteers with volunteer opportunities, donors with giving opportunities, and peer-to-peer fundraisers with fundraising opportunities. 

Be sure to also provide each of these supporters with the opportunity to grow and expand their involvement with your organization. 

For instance, since your volunteers have already contributed their time to your organization, they might also be interested in becoming advocates. In addition, your donors may be interested in getting involved in other ways besides just giving.

When you provide a variety of ways to get involved, you show supporters that you value them as people, not just as a source of donations. If supporters take you up on your offer and expand their engagement, you can build even stronger bonds that can last a lifetime.

Express appreciation frequently

A major element of donor stewardship is properly conveying your gratitude for the supporters who keep your organization running with thank-you messages. When you craft your messages, ensure you:

  • Mention the impact of the supporter’s gift. Once a donor contributes, they should be updated on what your organization does with their gifts. Keeping them in the loop boosts transparency and trust between you and your donors, increasing the likelihood they’ll give again.
  • Include statistics and real stories. These facts convey the specific project or task you were able to accomplish with the help of supporter contributions.
  • Be genuine and personal. Address supporters by their preferred names and reference their specific contributions. 

You can also express your appreciation through your actions. For instance, focus on improving the supporter experience from top to bottom with mobile-responsive resources, accessible web design, and frequent touchpoints that provide interesting, relevant information. If you prove your dedication through your actions, you’ll retain digital donors easily.

The impact of strategic donor communications

Boosting donor retention simply takes a strategic plan using databases and communication platforms that you likely already have access to. By speaking to supporters in ways they connect with and tailoring your messages to their interests, you can boost donor engagement and, eventually, your retention rates.

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    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing