According to data from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, the average donor retention rate in the U.S. after the first gift is around 45 percent. It’s clear that nonprofits need to increase this percentage in order to continue the work they do in their communities. To do this, they must optimize the donor experience: the path of a donor’s engagements, interactions, and activities with the organization that can ultimately lead to a gift.
While it’s impossible to read the minds of one-time donors to know what moves them to give, you can gain insight by listening to your existing loyal donors. Gathering this information does take time, but the insight you receive will enable you to improve the experience, prompting donors to strengthen their support. This article shares a process you can use to collect this knowledge.
Three Steps to Success:
1) Send a Survey
Surveys are a quick, easy way to learn. The key to a successful survey is to make it simple for the recipient to respond. Here are several tips that will increase your survey response rate:
- Keep questions short.
- Focus each question on only one issue.
- Limit the survey to 10 questions maximum.
- To get a feel for the nuances of how donors feel, ask for a scaled response. For example: Extremely Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied.
- Ask one or two open-ended questions with a comment field that allows donors to share their thoughts.
2) Ask Web Page Visitors
Another good way to gather information from donors is to have a survey question pop up in a small window in the corner of your web page. This question can either be a yes/no question or can require a scaled response. You’ll want to ask questions like “How passionate are you about [issue your nonprofit supports]?” or “How likely are you to recommend [name of organization] to a friend or colleague?”
Pop up survey questions are effective because they take only a few seconds of a site visitor’s time. Those who are busy are more likely to fill out a one-question survey than to complete something more involved. However, these pop-ups can only be served to people visiting your site, so think of them as just one of several tools to use.
3) Interview Your Loyal Donors
One of the best ways to discover valuable insights that you can use to improve your donor experience is to conduct several one-on-one interviews. These interviews give you the ability to gather qualitative data that provides a fuller picture of what a donor is thinking.
Ask your loyal supporters questions like:
- What initially attracted you to our organization?
- What gives you the confidence to continue supporting our work?
- What gets you excited about [name of the program they gave to]?
- What types of information would you like our organization to share with you?
- What aspects of [name of program] would you like to see firsthand?
- What experiences have made the biggest impact on you?
The answers you receive to these questions will provide you with the information you need not only to improve your regular donors’ experience, but also to attract new donors. The more you know about what your donors value, the better you’ll be at motivating them to give.
Learn why the donor experience is vital to a successful organization and how to implement an effective donor experience program by downloading “A Better Donor Experience: Is it the Cornerstone of Donor Loyalty?”