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Donor Retention - 4 Ways to Bring December Donors into the New Year

By February 6, 2013

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Headshot of Matthew Mielcarek

I'm happy to welcome Matthew Mielcarek as a guest blogger. Mielcarek is Vice President of Consulting at Charity Dynamics where he delivers best practice solutions to nonprofits. This guest post was written in collaboration with Brittany Richards of Software Advice, a website that reviews nonprofit software.

December is a booming time for nonprofits. According to an online giving study from Network for Good, over 20 percent of donations happen in the last two months of the year. In addition to the increased number of donations, a majority of these donations come from first-time givers.

But as quickly as the money comes, it also goes away. In fact, statistics show that a whopping 70 percent of those donors will not give again.

Nonprofit organizations can make a concerted effort to help transition 2012 donors to more permanent givers. For many, nonprofits need only set aside time to maintain contact with first-time donors in the midst of their other New Year fundraising campaigns.

Here are four effective ways to nurture those relationships to ensure donor retention into 2013 and beyond.

  1. Consider the First Gift a Qualified Lead
    The important thing to remember is that the work is never done. Look at a first donation as an acquisition gift. By giving, the donor has expressed interest in supporting your cause. Set aside a budget to develop the gift into an ongoing one. It is more cost effective to retain a donor than it is to go out and a find new one.

  2. Say Thank You
    Perhaps the simplest step is the one that is most ignored. A nonprofit report showed that a fifth of donors said they were never thanked. And for many, a tax receipt is an insufficient 'thank you.' Follow up with a note acknowledging their generosity and showing them how their gift made a difference in your organization. A bit of gratitude can go a long way.

  3. Pay Attention to Details When Engaging
    A gift supplies a great deal of information. In one transaction, the donor tells you their address, city, state, payment method, giving channel, etc. Use these details to create a better message for each individual. For example, online givers should be communicated in a different manner than is typical offline. Be aware of insights gained and include them in your messaging. Thoughtful targeting can make all the difference.

  4. Proceed to the Renewal Gift
    Every step brings us to this moment. The time has come to convert to the next stage of giving. There should be a clear call-to-action that suits the donor's needs while also benefiting the organization. Suggest a follow up gift to the donor or ask for small recurring monthly donations. And thanks to the ongoing, relevant dialogue, the job should be made easier.

No matter which strategy works the best for your nonprofit, it's important to remember the first gift is only the first step in donor retention. Set a goal to identify your first-time donors and implement a plan on how to keep them through the new year.

Read more about donor retention:

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