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5 Ways for NGOs to Drive Retention

The following is a guest post by Ashley Halligan, nonprofit analyst at Software Advice.

Ashley Halligan Ashley Halligan

Kicking off 2013 with a new presidency, new goals, and new challenges, nonprofit organizations are planning their year. First thing's first, says Matthew Mielcarek, Charity Dynamic's VP of Consulting--retaining the influx of December donors, many of which are first-time donors. In a benchmarking reportconducted by Blackbaud, it shows that 70 percent of first-time donors will not give again. Mielcarek created this guide outlining five effective retention strategies to turn first-time givers into lifetime supporters.

1) Consider The First Gift an Acquisition Gift

Mielcarek says, "There's not much of an investment argument here, as the value proposition for retaining donors is so much greater than finding new ones." Demonstrating to a first-time giver the lifetime value of their support is essential. Invest time in building a relationship with these supporters, teaching them your mission and sharing long-term goals.

2) Pay Attention to the Donor's Message

Giving attention to simple information can give you detailed insight into your donors' minds. Taking a look at geographical location, the amount of the initial donation, and how a particular donor was acquired can help your develop a strategy to building a lasting relationship.

3) Show Gratefulness to First-Time Donors

A study conducted by Charity Dynamics and NTEN shows that 21 percent of donors say they were never thanked for their support. Demonstrating gratefulness is important to build trust and a sense of recognition among donors. Acknowledge their support and show them--specifically--how it's helped your organization's mission. Furthermore, go beyond a single thank you and be sure to thank a donor multiple times, as your organizaton advances its efforts throughout the year. This makes a donor feel valuable and engages them for a period of time after their initial support.

4) Continue to Engage Your Donors

Building on continued thanks, ongoing engagement is important to fostering real connections with your supporters. This helps tailor outreach based on donor involvement and metrics. Custom messages increase the likelihood that a supporter will continue supporting an organization's efforts. The Charity Dynamics/NTEN study shows that donors prefer using a charity's website to gather information about an organization, followed by email and Facebook. Utilizing the most popular channels for supporter communications makes a message's outreach more widepsread and, therefore, effective.

5) Convert to the Next Stage of Giving

Once a relationship has been established with a supporter, it becomes time to move into the next stage of giving: a supporter's next gift, whether that be via a recurring donation, a second charitable contribution, or a membership renewal.

For more nonprofit management research and suggestions, visit Software Advice and Charity Dynamics.

Ashley Halligan is an analyst at Software Advice where she regularly reports on the nonprofit sector’s news and trends.

Topics: Fundraising