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Donor Experience: Converting New Donors to Recurring Donors

As we mentioned in our recent post, “3 Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Focus on the Donor Experience,” one of the best ways to find out what a good donor experience looks like is to talk with your current, loyal donors. By listening to what matters to them and what makes them feel connected to your organization, you’ll gain specific insights that will help you craft an experience that’s effective at converting new donors to recurring donors. Plus, you’ll improve your relationships with your loyal donors!

Some questions to ask include:

  • What initially attracted them to your organization?
  • What gives them the confidence to continue supporting your work?
  • What gets them excited about a particular program?
  • What do they like your organization to share with them?
  • What aspects of your charitable programs would they like to see firsthand?
  • What experiences have made the biggest impact on them?

While the answers to these questions will give you important insights, there are several elements that are universal to every effective donor experience program. Here are the essentials you’ll want to work on yours.

Express your gratitude frequently:

No matter the size of the donation, everyone who gives to your organization should receive a sincere “thank you.” In this letter of appreciation, it’s a good idea to reiterate what their money will be used for. Use this opportunity to generate excitement about the program their gift will benefit. And don’t limit your appreciation to a one-time letter. By expressing your appreciation multiple times throughout the year, you’ll simultaneously remind the donor of your organization and the work you’re doing, which may result in another gift.

Get creative with your thank you communication:

To make an impact with your thank you letter, bring emotion into it. Get creative and use handwritten notes, photos of your team or project, or make individual phone calls. The more personalized the communication is, the more it will mean to the donor—and the more she or he will remember it.

Keep donors informed about the programs they care about:

Your donors are passionate about one (or a few) of your programs. These are the ones they give to regularly. Keep them updated on the progress of projects, launches of new initiatives, and the results that you’re seeing with the programs they care about. By keeping donors informed, you’ll make them feel like a part of the team (which they are). And you’ll also motivate them to continue giving to support the program.

Make donors feel like true team members:

Going beyond keeping them informed, there are other ways to make donors feel a part of your team. Send them photos of your team in action, host meet-and-greet events with leaders, program managers, and those who have benefited from your services. Provide donors with opportunities to see your work firsthand. When you show donors that you couldn’t do your work without them, they’ll feel like a vital part of your community.

Share stories of success:

Few things are more motivating than hearing a real story of how your organization has helped someone. Share success stories in thank you letters, on your website, in your newsletters, and on social media. Also showcase completed projects and any tangible results that can be seen, such as community projects. When donors put names and faces to the work that their money is going toward, they’re excited about being part of that success and seek to do more.

Seek regular feedback from donors:

We mentioned the importance of talking with donors at the beginning of this article, but we want to highlight it again. Getting feedback is helpful not only for providing you with insight, but it also makes donors feel valued. When you listen to a donor’s ideas, you’re validating that individual’s worth.

Each of these elements will improve your donor experience by building strong relationships between your organization and your donors. As your relationships grow, your donors’ desire to further your organization’s work will also grow.

Learn why the donor experience is vital to a successful organization and how to implement an effective donor experience program by downloading our white paperA Better Donor Experience: Is it the Cornerstone of Donor Loyalty?

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