HOW TO: Dramatically Increase Your Nonprofit's Online Donations Over the Next 12 Months


It looks like, on average nonprofits are bleeding to death. A couple of weeks ago, the AFP reported that:

“For every $5.35 that organizations gained in gift dollars in 2010, $5.54 was lost through donor attrition, for an average net loss of -1.9 percent.”

Translation for people who hate math: nonprofits are bad at retaining donors.

Stop the Bleeding By Focusing on Donor Retention

I’m not that good at math either, but I do know that acquiring a new donor is at least three times as expensive as keeping a donor. I also know that the lifetime dollar value of a donor that sticks around is more than a donor who only gives once (d’uh).

Wouldn’t it be smarter to take resources from your donor acquisition strategy and apply them towards beefing up donor retention? Any successful for-profit business will tell you to invest heavily in retention.

Following are a few ideas to get you started:

Say Thanks

Can you believe that national organizations like The Red Cross and Defenders of Wildlife never said thanks to Kivi? Not only did they lose a potential repeat donor, they ended up on Kivi’s wall of shame!

If only they said “thanks,” they wouldn’t have to waste resources replacing her with another donor, who most likely won’t sign on as a lifer unless these orgs change their follow-up strategy.

Give Your Current Advocates Ninja Tools

You know what’s made iTunes a billion-dollar success? Optimizing their purchase down to a single mouse-click. Same thing goes for your top social fundraisers.

Don’t give your top fundraisiers a clunky platform that they have to explain how to use so their friends can donate. Give them something powerfully simple, like Mightycause. Remember, you’re trying to keep these top fundraisers happy.

Support Your Supporters Agendas

One way to keep your top supporters interested and committed is to support their agendas! For example, if one of your top supporters publishes a blog about why the cause is personal, you need to be retweeting their blog posts. Or if one of your top fundraisers owns a local restaurant, you’d better be holding some of your events there.

Constantly Report Outcomes

I love what the Animal Rescue League of Boston does on Facebook. Almost every week, I see some kind of success story. As Alexandra mentioned, 53% of online donors in one study identified “achieving and communicating measurable results” as prominent in their decision making to donate again. You want people to donate more than once? Report outcomes!

Develop One Cause Marketing Partnership

My good friend, Joe Waters and I are often surprised how few nonprofits have a cause marketing partnership, or even know what cause marketing is! Last Mother’s Day, Epic Change followed up with each online donor with a promotion about one of their cause marketing partners: A percent of this really great mothers day gift does to Epic Change. Click here to buy…. Smart stuff.

Don’t Shoot for Perfect

Trying to get everything perfect will only get nothing done. But “done” is what you want. Break down your donor retention strategy down to small chunks that you can finish one at a time. Done… next… repeat.

What do you think?