11 Strategies for Stellar Donor Retention (Using Your CRM)

Mark Kelly
September 22, 2017

Take a look at these 11 strategies for stellar donor retention using your CRM.

Donor retention is indescribably necessary for nonprofits of all sizes and focuses. Without satisfied donors, there are no funds to further your cause. It boils down to the simple fact that without your donors, you can’t keep afloat.

56% of last year’s donors won’t give to your organization again this year. That’s a frightening percentage, especially for smaller organizations who depend on their recurring donations and loyal donors.

We realize you, as a smaller nonprofit, might be nervous about losing donors, but don’t worry. You’ve realized that by now, you just need to be proactive about donor retention!

We have 5 easy strategies to help your prioritize donor retention using your CRM:

  1. Track your donors and their donations for donor retention.
  2. Manage your nonprofit members to retain your donors.
  3. Focus on donor cultivation for donor retention.
  4. Leverage your data with reports for donor retention.
  5. Personalize and segment your outreach for donor retention.
  6. Show donor impact to retain your donors.
  7. Offer other engagement opportunities for donor retention.
  8. Host stewardship events for major donors.
  9. Regularly clean your donor database to retain your donors.
  10. Always thank donors to improve donor retention.
  11. Engage donors on social media to retain your donors.

If you’re ready to learn 5 actionable strategies to keep your donors happy and generous, let’s begin!

 Track your donors and their donations for the best donor retention.

1. Track your donors and their donations for donor retention.

Think of your donors as an extension of your nonprofit. You should know them front and back, just like they should know you.

With your donor management software, track every interaction and donation a donor has with your organization. This way, you’ll have a 360-degree picture of each of your donors at your fingertips.

Whether it’s online or in-person, your CRM will let you track:

  • Contact information
  • Relationships
  • Philanthropic interests
  • Preferred methods of communication
  • Social media activity
  • Demographics
  • Event attendance
  • Overall involvement

You also want to record more custom preferences like familial status, anniversary date, birth date, household pets, etc. and make detailed notes during one-on-one meetings.

Your CRM can help increase donor retention rates when you use it to track donors.

You’ll want any information of value that can help you get to know your donors better. Your supporters can tell when you know them individually and when they’re categorized as part of a group!

Bonus: Check out this article on acquiring donations so you have data to track to increase your donor retention!

 Manage your nonprofit members for to retain your donors.

2. Manage your nonprofit members to retain your donors.

Your members are easy to satisfy because they’re already members! In other words, they’re already interested and involved with your organization. Your task when it comes to them is the maintenance behind these relationships.

After creating different memberships types with varying packages, using your CRM to manage your members means tracking start and end dates as well as renewal periods. You’ll be able to segment your members into different lists based so you can send payment reminders, promotions and more.

Plus, you’ll be able to craft online member pages to drive website engagement and accept payments online.

Manage your nonprofit's members to create a donor retention strategy.

All the while, you’ll be tracking your relationships with your members, too. Just like your donor tracking, you’ll want to add in custom fields to notes to enhance your knowledge about your members, therefore enhancing your relationships.

 Focus on donor cultivation for donor retention.

3. Focus on donor cultivation for donor retention.

With your CRM’s help, donor cultivation just got a lot easier. Here’s where tracking all your relationships pays off!

Your CRM can let you craft workflows for each specific supporter so you know exactly when to send your next letter, invite them to a meeting, or ask them to contribute a major gift—you know when to communicate.

In addition, you can even assign your nonprofit staff to different tasks within a workflow, so sending out another email is never delayed! You’ll be able to use these cultivation workflows for other projects like grant proposals or sponsor partnerships.

Make donor cultivation a priority when working to increase your donor retention rates.

The small tasks that develop donor relationships won’t be forgotten again when you can use your CRM to help you.

The key point here is that yours CRM should allow your organization to have a much better understanding of who each donor is as a person. This is more than just a communication strategy.

Your database is a compilation of details acquired over the length of a donor's contact with an organization.

This is especially important for major donors because a CRM helps a nonprofit treat each donor like a complete person instead of a source of revenue. This is the crux of donor cultivation!

 Leverage your data with reports for donor retention.

4. Leverage your data with reports for donor retention.

Your CRM should help you create and customize different reports about everything you might need, like:

  • Giving trends
  • Project goals
  • Online donations
  • Pledges
  • Social media interactions
  • Event registration

Most importantly, these reports will help you recognize which campaigns, social media posts, and events are most popular and successful with your donor base.

To give you an idea, for email campaigns, you’ll be able to see which emails were opened and engaged with, which will help you determine which language had the most positive effect.

Use your CRM's reports to help your donor retention strategy.

With this knowledge on your side, you’ll be able to cater your future fundraising strategy to your donors’ preferences, maximizing your potential for donations and success!

These reports can even help your organization track donor retention. Your nonprofit should customize these reports so you can see the success of your donor retention efforts. This way, you'll be able to determine what's working and what's falling short.

 Personalize and segment outreach for donor retention.

5. Personalize and segment your outreach for donor retention.

You can’t expect to build a strong donor relationship if your only interactions with a donor are the transaction and a follow-up thank-you email.

With your CRM, you’ll be able to segment your donor base into individual lists, based on popular preferences.

You’ll have to share your success and your struggles, constantly updating your donor base on your organization’s progress. How do you reach out to your donors?

For example, you might separate lists on individuals who have expressed interest in your upcoming campaign. From there, you can segment your list further based on preferred methods of communication, which you’ll have stored for easy access within donor profiles.

You can create different lists for those who prefer email, social media, letter, phone calls, or any other form of communication.

Segment your outreach with your CRM to increase your donor retention rates.

Keep in mind your outreach should always feel personal to the donor. Donors won’t feel compelled to give if you’re sending out the same emails to everyone, so try tricks like using their names, mentioning previous campaigns they’ve given to, or referencing their philanthropic interests in your approaches.


Annual Development Plan Checklist


Show donor impact to retain your donors.

6. Show donor impact to retain your donors.

CRMs will help keep each campaign organized so that your nonprofit can provide specific updates to interested donors!

You can update donors who've made contributions to your campaigns easily by segmenting lists in your database. Because your CRM will keep everything organized, you won't have to worry about accidentally sending a donor updates on a campaign he isn't interested in.

Plus, you can send out updates for all the campaigns you're working on—not just one!

These updates should show donors exactly what their donations are supporting. Provide powerful images and videos that portray the change you're making through different methods of communication, like:

  • Email
  • Social media
  • Website

Don't forget you can mention this content through traditional methods of contact, like phone calls and direct mail, too. This way, you can thoroughly engage your supporters and drive more traffic to your website.

Offer other engagement opportunities for donor retention.

7. Offer other engagement opportunities for donor retention.

Give your supporters calls to action and provide them with other ways to get involved with your nonprofit's community.

An easy way to engage your donors with little effort on their part, advocacy campaigns allow your nonprofit to push your cause to your local government.

With advocacy campaigns, your organization can ask donors to sign online petitions and make calls to their local congressmen.

Your organization should proivde easy to read scripts and social media templates so all your donors have to do to support you is read from a piece of paper or copy and paste a tweet. 

Host stewardship events for major donors.

8. Host stewardship events for major donors.

You'll want to host events where you can get to know your major gift prospects and they can get to know your organization!

These events allow for geniune connection, which is the easiest and most trusted way for your donors to feel valued and then compelled to give to your cause.

Use your proposal to explain the work your organization is doing. Including compelling images and powerful videos throughout the event as well as in your presentation will portray your passion for your cause.

Regularly clean your donor database to retain your donors.

9. Regularly clean your donor database to retain your donors.

Just like your home, your donor database should be subject to spring cleaning, too!

At least once a year, your organization should schedule regular cleaning for your database. It's easier to clean sections at a time, so not all of the data is out of comission.

Cleaning will eliminate duplicate records or outdated information.

This updated information will be more accurate, which will help your organization better cultivation strategies! For example, you won't want to address a letter to Mr. & Mrs. Smith if the couple has recently divorced.

Staying on top of your database cleaning directly translates to staying on top of donor cultivation. 

Always thank donors to improve donor retention.

10. Always thank donors to improve donor retention.

Your donors keep your organization afloat. Without them, there would be no funds and without funds, you won't be able to further your cause.

Your donors are important so make them feel like they are! Always thank your donors, even if they haven't given in a while. Expressing your gratitude will encourage donations in the future.

Make sure your donors aren't asked for another donation before they've been properly thanked for their last! It's a good idea to give them some breathing room before the next ask because you don't want them to feel like all they're good for is their money.

Your CRM's donation tracking and calendars can help you plan thank-you's and new asks. 

Engage donors on social media to retain your donors.

11. Engage donors on social media to retain your donors.

Social media is one of the most popular communication methods and it's also one of the easiest ways to stay relevant in donors' lives.

Comprehensive CRM solutions, like Salsa's, allows nonprofits to reach out to donors in both online and offline channels to stay present on your donors' minds.

Salsa Engage even offers a Facebook Ads Integration, which is the leading product in its industry, so your organization can target donors on their favorite platforms. You can create a lead ad form for Facebook in just a few easy steps!

You'll simply need to create a lead ad form that links to a Facebook form. But don't stress, you'll have Salsa's help because your form will easily integrate with Salsa Engage!

Facebook tracking pixel will redirect viewers from your ads to your landing pages, like donation pages built in Salsa Engage, so your organization can target previous visitors who didn't donate or further interact with your organization.

You can even segment your lists so your Facebook ads will target donors who gave last year but haven't given this year in an effort to encourage them to contribute.

With the right CRM, you can automate easy options for your donors, such as including social media links on direct mail materials.

Social media will be an easy step in improving the much needed engagement with your supporters!

Selecting the right CRM or donor database software for your organization is an important decision as the software plays a huge role in donor stewardship and therefore, donor retention. With the right CRM, your donor retention rates will be off the charts.

If you want to unlock more supporter management and fundraising tips, check out these additional resources:

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