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Allyson Kapin 4 min read

Dearest Donors: A Love Letter

Your donors are likely your organization's lifeline, and it's important to acquire donors, keep them egaged, and move them further up the ladder of engagement. But you need to treat your donors with love, and cultivate a real realtionship.

Blackbaud brought together 14 nonprofit experts in an eBook to share tried-and-true donor retention strategies, tips, and ideas. We reviewed the advice and are bringing you the highlights of Show the Love: Thoughtful Engagement to Retain Donors.

But first, why should you care? According to research conducted by Chuck Longfield, Chief Scientist at Blackbaud:

  • First-year donor retention rates have declined to the point where, on average, nearly three out of four newly acquired donors leave within the first year. Yikes.
  • Acquiring a new donor costs six to seven times more than it costs to retain an existing donor. Double yikes.

Now that I have your attention, here are some tips we pulled for showing your donors the love:

  • Thank them. Seriously, it's only two words: thank you, and it means the world. You can thank your donors by giving them a call, taking them to coffee, and sending them a hand-written note. What are other ways you like to thank your donors? Get creative.
  • Give 'em 12 "touches" per year. A touch can be a simple "I'm thinking of you" note, a phone call to say that you're thinking of them, or even a reminder of how important they are to your life. Remember: this touch is all about letting them know that you value them.
  • Reach out to your donors on holidays: Halloween, Valentine's Day, Veterans' Day... Get to know your donors and know what holidays they celebrate and what's important to them. Celebrating them on their day of celebration shows that you really care.
  • Create a retention calendar. This will be a calendar outlining all of the times you're going to reach out to individual donors throughout the year. This calendar will be your roadmap to communicating with your donors and to keeping them engaged regularly.
  • Find out what your donors need from you. Healthy relationships are never one-sided. Check in with your donors and see what they need, how they're doing, and how you can involve them more (if that's what you both want). One way to check in with your donors is to send out a poll or survey to figure out exactly what they need from you to get more involved in your issues. What you think they need maybe quite different then what they actually want.

This is just the beginning, but it's a few big steps in the right direction. This eBook is thorough and filled to the brim with great tips. We're going to highlight a few more points in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

And, in the meantime, what are you doing to show your donors the love?


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.