For today’s post, we are featuring a guest blog article from Jeremy Silverstein, Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Goodwill Car Donations.
According to donor management software company Bloomerang, 60 percent of an organization’s supporters are one-time givers. While any kind of support for your nonprofit is great, the true reward of all your time, effort, and money spent is to attract repeat donors.
But how do you turn one-time donors into repeat donors? While this has been a challenge for many nonprofits, we’ve put together a quick list of strategies that will maximize your efforts and resources in order to turn first-time donors into ongoing supporters.
- Say “Thank You” Often
All donors should receive some kind of acknowledgement and thank you from your organization, regardless of the size of their donation. That said, to retain donors and encourage repeat donations, acknowledgement throughout the year is a must have. This ongoing appreciation will create multiple touch points with your donors, and will help them feel valued by and engaged with your nonprofit. The result will often be increased repeat donations!
Thank-you gestures can include short, handwritten notes, pictures of your organization in action, emails, or even phone calls from a member of your organization. They should be authentic, personalized, and match your brand as you express appreciation.
- Promote Ongoing Donor Engagement
Most first-time donors give because they feel a connection to your cause. In order to promote repeat donations, it only makes sense for you to keep that connection strong by promoting ongoing donor engagement.
A great place to start is your website. It’s a primary tool for your donors to use to learn more about your organization. When you keep your website up to date, your donors will continuously return in order to learn about any updates or progress that has been made.
Another great way to encourage increased engagement with your donors is to ensure that your website is inviting, colorful, and easy to navigate.
Finally, integrate your website updates by utilizing email campaigns and social media so that you can stay connected with your supporters and keep them informed and engaged.
- Let Donors Get Personal
Telling your organization’s story is a surefire way to connect with your donors. As mentioned before, your website (including pictures and videos) will keep your donors up to date, but you may also want to consider a more personal approach.
Offer tours of your facility, host informal meet-and-greet sessions with leaders or recipients of your services, and provide other hands-on opportunities for donors to see your organization in action. When your work becomes real and personal, you help donors get excited about providing ongoing support!
- Share Success Stories
Most donors prefer to see how their first donation is used, before they make a second donation. If your organization is able to clearly convey your success with the donations received, your chances of gaining repeat donors will increase greatly.
You can share success stories on your website, in newsletters, and via email social media. Showcase the successful projects your organization completes, and ask your volunteers to share their stories in order to remind donors that their ongoing support makes a significant difference.
- Employ Non-Ask Campaigns via Different Media
One of the quickest ways to alienate donors is to contact them only when you are asking for their money. They’ll come to resent your requests, simply toss the envelopes, or delete the emails from your organization.
Instead of only engaging with your donors when you need monetary contributions, make an effort to use non-ask campaigns to connect with your donors. Non-ask campaigns are any communication or marketing campaigns that have a primary purpose of informing and acknowledging your donors without asking for a monetary contribution. These campaigns are a perfect touchpoint for first-time donors, and will help you develop a relationship with them to the point that they will look forward to hearing from your organization throughout the year.
As a vital part of your non-ask campaigns, plan on using social media and face-to-face contact to build your donor relationships further. Send newsletters and other engaging mail throughout the year, hold in-person meetings to build relationships, and show that you value donors for more than their wallets!
- Give Donors Alternative Ways to Be Heard
While donors appreciate the opportunity to contribute monetarily to your organization, they also want to feel valued as a donor and an integral part of your organization.
Surveys provide donors with the opportunity to rank important projects, share the ways they like to give, and provide insight into your work. You can also contact donors and ask them to share their thoughts on your donor interaction, mailings, and website. As you give your one-time donors a voice, they begin to take ownership of your organization and want to invest further to ensure its success!
- Stay Focused on the Mission
It’s easy to share your mission with potential donors as you get their attention. After they give, though, you may turn your focus to gift renewals, naming opportunities, and sponsorship levels. Go back to the basics by staying focused on your mission.
Instead of advertising gala tickets for $500 per person, talk about how those dollars will support the people you serve and projects you operate. Your chances of retaining donors increase when you keep the mission as the focus at all times.
In conclusion, we all know that attracting donors requires a great deal of effort, so consider using these seven tips as you retain those donors. Your organization will make a bigger impact when you turn one-time donors into repeat supporters of your cause.
Author bio: Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Goodwill Car Donations. After handling tens of thousands of donated vehicles during the five years he’s been with the organization, he’s become an expert in his field.