The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

The Number One Reason Donors Stop Giving

What is the number one reason donors become “one-time” instead of “recurring”?

Donors cite the primary reason for ceasing their support as this: It was the way I was treated by charity, from not being thanked to receiving an avalanche of needy appeals. You need a thank-you message that says to your donors, “you matter,” and, “let’s start a conversation.” Think of the old marketing adage: It’s cheaper to keep a customer (donor/supporter) than to find a new one.

Here are the top three ways to show your appreciation and thanks to donors:

    1. Thank your donors three times as often as you appeal for donations. You read that correctly: Three times as often. Say thank you. Send an update. Highlight a program, person, or other aspect of your organization that the generous donation went toward. Think about the last time you received a thank you note—didn’t it just make you feel all warm and fuzzy?


    1. Make your thank you message personal. A person cannot be thanked enough, unless the thank you is a corny form letter. You can spare your supporters from receiving a single one. (Trust us: Donors can tell the difference.) Think hand-written notes, phone calls, or some personalization in your email message at least. When crafting your letter, check out the four parts of a great message, and don’t let another “Dear Donor” message happen to you!


  1. Show your donors their impact: Be transparent! How did your organization spend their money? Who did they help? Be accountable. If I know that I saved Spot the dog from being euthanized, show me a picture of Spot. The most important thing is to be genuine.

This amazing thank you from ACTS hits all the right notes:

ACTS Donor Thank You



Before you say you can’t afford to do this or don’t have time, tally the cost of losing a donor versus finding a new one. Cultivating—and keeping—your donors over time is not just a wise investment of your time, you’ll build a community of loyal, involved superfans in the process.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 14, 2012 and has been updated.


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About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

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