The Nonprofit Giver that Keeps on Giving- Part 1

The Nonprofit Giver that Keeps on Giving- Part 1

April 14, 2016 Lynette Garet Fundraising 0 Comment

How to get Your Nonprofit Donors to Give and Give Again


As with for-profit business, repeat revenue is the cost-effective foundation for nonprofit funding. Giving USA’s annual report[i] found individual donors make up 70 percent of a nonprofit’s total donations. It takes less staff time, money and effort to invest in donor stewardship than to find and court prospective deep-pocket donors, endowments and bequests. Moreover, monthly donors give more over time than larger, one-time donors do.


Make It Personal

The key to donor retention is old-fashioned customer service: simple, genuine and personal. Easy registration, suggested donation amounts and automated monthly giving options make all the difference in donor retention. Recognition, whether a simple personalized thank-you, a gift or a phone call, makes it personal and keeps your donors engaged. While many donors appreciate the tax implications of their charitable donations, donor appreciation builds loyalty that leads to increased giving.


While direct mail has its place, a well-designed, branded website and social media campaigns can reach the greatest potential audience, get them involved and foster increased donations. People want to feel good about their donations and they want recognition, however modest. Donors want to know they are making a difference. Blogs, Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter and YouTube allow donors to interact with your organization and each other. Keep social media campaigns focused on the objective. Provide clear links from a social media page to your website.


Easy Does It

A good web designer knows a site’s color, theme and message should be consistent throughout the site.

  • Develop your brand: Use your site to create your organization’s unique, recognizable image. Be consistent in site organization, style and tone; maintain the same elements and colors throughout. Avoid clutter, do not overcrowd your pages; it confuses and distracts site visitors.
  • Obvious menus, banners and navigation bars lead a prospective donor quickly through the site, providing key information about mission, programs, staff and outcomes. If a donor wants to know about board, key staff members or operating costs, the information has to accessible.


An Open Invitation

Feature an easily recognizable and prominent “donate” button on your home page:

  • Place the button on or near the top menu bar
  • Make it eye-catching and big, use contrasting color
  • Keep the button front and center on every page of your website
  • Keep user navigation simple—one step to checkout—you risk losing your donor if she has to navigate more than two screens


Use your home page to spotlight:

  • Current campaigns, let visitors know your most pressing needs
  • Individual donor profiles, why they give
  • Opportunities for involvement, whether cash donations or volunteerism
  • Success stories, tell donors how their donations changed lives


Close the “Sale”

Keep your donor registration form to a minimum: Every question between “Donate” and “Done” increases the risk of losing a donor’s interest. Offer at least three suggested options for amount, as well as “Other,” e.g. $10, $100, $1,000, and “Other”. Ask only for essential information:

  • Name and contact information, including email
  • Amount, monthly or one-time
  • Payment method requirements (credit card, bank transfer, PayPal)


Donor Appreciation

As soon as an online donation is complete, a personalized receipt and thank-you message should be on their way to the donor’s email inbox. As with donor registration, the receipt must include:

  • Donor name and address
  • Applicable program/donor restrictions
  • Donation amount and method (and frequency, if applicable)
  • Organization name, address and tax ID number
  • If applicable, value of quid pro quo gift


Do not send a “Dear Friend” message; at least customize it with the donor’s name and specific details of the donation. Nothing says, “You’re just one of a cast of thousands,” like a form letter. These days, it requires very little effort to personalize automated messages. Follow up the email with a brief, direct mail thank-you note that a real person “signs.” The more personal you make your organization’s donor communications, the greater the ultimate rewards—greater donor retention, increased giving, reduced administrative costs and effort.


Avoid the temptation to ask a donor for more in the same breath that you use to say thank you. The reaction is likely to be “I just gave you money! What did you do with it?” Restraint will pay dividends. Instead, engage your donor in conversation, ask the reason for giving, invite participation in other activities or on social media sites, and report your successes. Donors love to know what their money is doing.


Building donor relationships and encouraging repeat giving requires simplicity, time and a personal touch. Building a relationship with each donor is a long-term process. In the end, it takes less effort to keep the donors you have than to find replacements.


[i] “Giving USA Annual Report,”

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