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How to use your CRM to create effective donor retention systems

Donor retention is all about relationship building. However, building relationships takes time and when you’re building them as part of an organization, there can be many moving parts and aspects to track.

Enter your CRM.

A CRM (constituent relationship management) tool is a great way to keep tabs on your donors and, more specifically, start to set up effective systems and communication methods for retaining those donors.

Here are six ways to think about donor retention and how to use your CRM to support these efforts.

Be authentic

Engage in a personalized way. This can be through phone calls, hand-written letters or personal emails outside of mass email newsletters. Donors can read through fake connotations. Be mindful of how you come across and don’t just pick up the pace in your communications because it’s close to annual fund solicitations or year-end giving campaigns. Be authentic year-round and check in many times throughout the year. Use your CRM to track each donor touchpoint; at the end of the year, you’ll be able to see how many times each donor has heard from you—personally or otherwise.

Invite engagement without strings

It’s not always about the money. Invite your donors to special events, galas or open houses and networking opportunities just because—no strings attached, and no donation expected. If a past donor is still interested in being involved with your organization but doesn’t have the means to give again this year, keep them engaged by nominating them to chair a committee or be a part of a volunteer group. Use tagging or group segmentation features in your CRM to keep track of volunteers, past and present committee chairs, etc.

Remember their stories

As you get to know your donors, they may share with you their own stories of impact, a funny story about a grandchild or a heart-warming note about an experience they had with one of your team members. Whatever those stories are, track them. Use your CRM’s notes area to add these tidbits of information. Then review those periodically and use them before you make a personal call to a donor, set up a meeting, etc.

Thank them often and genuinely

Acknowledge your donors with personal thank you notes and letters. Let them know how their donations impact your organizations. Show them how their money is being used. Share with them your stories of success and check in with them throughout the year (not just at donation time) to share these insights and appreciation. Don’t forget to add these special touches in your CRM’s activity area, too.

Use search filters to analyze

One of the great tools within our simple CRM is the ability to create custom fields and the ability to use filters to search for donors. You can set search filters by donation amount, by a particular attribute or by donor actions (i.e. who gave this year but not last year, lapsed donors, etc.) By sorting and analyzing this information on a regular basis, you’ll have a better understanding of donor profiles and can then look deeper into touchpoints and how best to engage with donors of certain types.

Segment as a team

Don’t just stick your donors in your CRM and forget about them. While there may be a lot of them to connect with, use segmenting and divvy the load between team members. Establish a system to log insights in the CRM and share those insights routinely, as a team. Use your search and analysis processes mentioned above to work together. One such organization we know holds Monday morning donor meetings where everyone on the team shares the connections and notes they made with donors the week prior. These are all tracked in the CRM as well, but they take it one step further by having discussions about those touchpoints once a week.

Review your donor retention program on a regular basis. Learn from what’s working and what’s not working. And, if you’re struggling in certain areas, take those problems to your advisory board and ask for advice and support.

We would love to help you boost your donor retention program with our simple CRM and fundraising landing pages. If you’re looking for the next step in building donor relationships, contact us for a free demo of our CRM software and fundraising platform.

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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