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5 guaranteed ways to lose your donors

Yes, you read that title correctly—these are guaranteed ways to lose your donors. According to GlobalGiving, donor retention is more important than ever, “If a new donor gives only once – as nearly 60% do – then you’re often left with a loss on your initial investment to gain that new donor.” The benefits of acquiring a donor often come when that donor is retained over the long term.

Here are a five common fundraising and communication errors your nonprofit needs to be avoiding in order to retain donors:

1. You didn’t tell them how their money was being used

Think about it—you likely don’t give your money to an organization until you have researched where the money is going and how it is being used. Your donors feel the same way, and they want you to tell them how their money is being used to make a difference. Informing your donors how their support is being used helps build credibility behind your brand and excites donors to continue giving.

How to fix it:

The American Red Cross has a page on their website specifically designed to tell donors exactly where and how their money is being used. You can also send out a year-end e-mail that lets donors know how their money was used in the past year.

2. You over-asked

Almost two-thirds of charity supporters say they have been asked too often to give. When it comes to fundraising appeals, sometimes it can feel like you just can’t win—it’s important to find the balance between not asking at all and over-asking your donors for support. For instance, sending another fundraising e-mail to a donor before you have thanked them for their last contribution may frustrate supporters.

How to fix it:

Sequencing and timing are key, so consider a donor management software that allows you to track communication and to make sure that every ask is appropriate.

3. Your call to action wasn’t loud and clear

Have you had visitors on your donation page that left before giving? Have you sent out a fundraising e-mail that no one responded to? Maybe the problem is that you do not have a strong call to action on your website or fundraising e-mails. When creating a call to action, the message must be relevant, clear and engaging, and there should be an obvious action button that directly leads to your donation page.

How to fix it:

Avoid distracting elements or links on your e-mails or website that will cause donors to leave your page. Create a clear message and CTA button that directs donors where you want them to go.

4. You were too impersonal

Nonprofit or not, it is important for companies to show a little personality behind their brand. When it comes to building relationships, actually taking the time to meet and talk to your donors will go a long way. Events play a crucial role in your overall fundraising strategy, both as opportunities to raise more money and to have staff network with donors and build positive relationships.

How to fix it:

Personalize your methods of communication to by integrating the first names of your donors in salutations and subject lines. Share your story more often and consider hosting fundraising or networking events for your donors.

5. You are under-communicating

The opposite problem of over-asking is under-communicating. In some cases, nonprofits feel like they are asking and communicating too often, when in reality, they are not. Again, it can be difficult to find the healthy balance between sending regular communication to your donors and asking them too often, but ultimately, you don’t want donors to forget about your organization.

How to fix it:

Try to communicate with your donors once a month, but spend some time talking about your donors, instead of talking at them. In addition, be sure to thank your donors at least once a year, so they know their contributions are noticed.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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