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Retaining Donors (September 5, 2018)

Acquiring donors is key to achieving the mission of the organization; however, retaining those donors is equally important and often overlooked. Seven out of 10 first time donors don’t give a second gift. Donor retention is all about building long lasting relationships with your donors. Here are some ways to help build those relationships with donors and increase your donor retention rate.

  • Thank you notes

After a donation is received a thank you note should be sent within 48 hours. Ideally, there should also be a handwritten thank you card or a hand written note on the standard letter that is sent. A handwritten note is an easy way to personalize it and show the donor that their gift, no matter the size, is appreciated and valued. Also, phone calls from board members are another way to personalize a thank you. A little bit of effort goes a long way in donor retention.

  • Donor newsletter

A donor newsletter is a great way to let donors know how their gift is being utilized to support the mission of the organization. The newsletter is also a good place to let the donors know about any interesting/exciting items that happened recently such as a news article about the organization, link to an interesting video, or recent achievements. Newsletters are a good way to communicate with donors.

  • Make donors a priority

Just as in a for profit business the key is to make the customer/donor the priority. Yes the mission of the organization is the main priority but the donors are also a priority because without them, the organization can’t achieve its mission. Answering phone calls, responding to questions via the website or social media, and responding to emails in a timely manner are practical ways to let donors know they are important and valued by the organization.

It is more cost effective to focus on donor retention than to acquire new donors; it costs 10 times more to acquire a new donor than to retain a current one. The main idea in donor retention is to let the donor know that not only is their gift appreciated but that they are appreciated as well. It is important that the actions and the culture of the organization reflect that.

By Samantha Noonan, Audit Associate, as provided by Jennifer L. Coleman, CPA, CFE at Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA. Samantha can be reached at or 239.425.2174.

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