5 Principles of Donor Communications

Fundraising pros know that meaningful communication and gratitude are the bedrock of a robust family of donors. Donor data management and segmentation are the tools that make personalized communication possible. A successful donor communications strategy is the necessary element that turns first-time donors into lifelong supporters.

The average donor retention rate in the U.S. after the first gift is around 45 percent. The key to changing that statistic—and turning first-time donors into lifelong supporters—is to focus on the human side of fundraising.

You put so much work into getting your donors. Here’s how to keep them.

Donor-Retention Communications

1) Connect early and often

After a donor makes that first donation, welcome them. Say thank you, share your gratitude, and tell them what you plan to accomplish with their funds. You can also ask first-time donors how they would like you to communicate with them and how often.

2) Be personal

Segment your donors so that a first-time donor receives a different thank you letter than a repeat donor or a VIP donor. That simple separation will show your donors that you understand their unique relationship with your organization.

3) Be friendly

Donor retention is built just like a friendship. You contact your friends in a variety of ways—letters or cards, emails, texts, phone calls, event invitations. Put that same variety of communication to work when getting to know your new donors.

4) Rally supporters

There are many different messengers you can call on to sing your organization’s praises. If someone benefits from the funds raised at your event, ask them to write a letter about why that was meaningful to them. Let a sponsor write about why they chose to be involved. Select a board member or star staffer to write about their love of the organization and the work your donors make possible.

5) Show your work

Let your donors know all the good work they’re helping you do whenever you contact them.

Check out The Donor Communications Mini-Guide for more tips on how to build a successful donor communications strategy for your nonprofit.

“Am I emailing my donors too much?” and Other Year-End Fundraising Questions Answered
Why Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Works
Fiscal Sponsorship: A Solution for New Nonprofits
5 Virtual Year-End Fundraising Event Ideas