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What We Learned About Donor Retention, Mobile and Millennials

Last week, Salsa sponsored two fact-filled webinars about online engagement: First, the Change.org hosted the webinar, “Engaging Supporters Beyond the Welcome Series,” followed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar, “How to Engage Millennial Donors.” Both inspired lots of great conversation, but in case you missed any of the action, here’s a run-down of some of the main takeaways.

Engaging Supporters Beyond the Welcome Series kicked things off with some helpful tips and strategies for how to make the most of the end-of-year fundraising season.

Did you know?

  • Almost half of all donations come in the last quarter of the year
  • Almost a quarter of all donations come in the month of December

So, by January, you should have lots of new donors! Unfortunately, most of them will disengage after they donate. Donor attrition is a big problem -  for every $100 gained from new donors, nonprofits lose an average of $96 from lapsed donors — that leaves only a gain of $4!  

But don’t worry, there’s hope! Here are the five ways presenter, Blake Groves, shared about how to improve your donor retention:

5 Ways to Improve Your Donor Retention:

  1. Plan head! Don't wait until your end-of-year fundraising campaign is done to focus on retention. Start planning months ahead, and come up with a plan for how to convert one-time supporters into long-term donors.
  2. Focus on EOY donors early.
  3. Target and segment to refine messages. Create different messages based on people's interests, actions, location, age, etc.
  4. Personalize/individualize communications in order to create relevance for your supporters.
  5. Drive engagement through automated communication. Use automated messaging to thank your donors, and then ask them to donate again or take another action.


Email campaigns drive a lot of end-of-year donations. Did you know that 81% of people read their email on mobile devices? That’s a lot of mobile-reading! So, what can you do  to make sure your emails are mobile-friendly?

5 Rules of Mobile Email

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Keep it concise
  3. Use high resolution images
  4. Include clear calls to action
  5. Use a single column design

To learn more about designing for mobile, check out Optimizing Your Website for Mobile and Year-End


Watch the entire webinar, Engaging Supporters Beyond the Welcome Series, here.

Next, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s webinar shifted gears just a bit to hone in on how online engagement affects the “Millennial” generation.

This year, Millennials are projected to surpass the outsized Baby Boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With a population that large, nonprofits really need to consider the best ways to engage this generation.  The webinar, How To Engage Millennial Donors, provided these great tips:

The best ways to engage millennial donors:

  • Use a tone/language that caters to them
    • Millennials like to relate to you, so think about your audience and talk in a tone that they will understand (sarcastic, funny, casual, nerdy, etc.)
  • Offer TRUE leadership opportunities
    • Millennials want to do things that are impactful
    • They want to make a difference
    • They enjoy being part of the creative process, let me help you with your messaging that speaks to them and their peers
    • Get them involved with your cause and let them make an impact!
  • TALK to them!
    • Survey your donors and volunteers, find out what's going well and what isn't
  • Look to your current volunteers who may have millennial children
    • If the parents are already committed, the kids will be more likely to engage with you
  • Host engaging meetings
    • Set the tone of the meeting to get millennials to come
      • Try promoting it with a funny gif on social media
    • Offer snacks!
    • Give them a chance to voice their opinions
    • Let them interact and network with their peers


  • Get them to relate to you
    • Offer meaningful stories
    • Find out what they're interested in and relate your messages
  • Thank them!
    • Millennials (like everyone) like to be appreciated
    • Offer them a heartfelt thank you with emotional relevance to them

Want more? Watch the entire webinar, Engaging Millennial Donors, here.


Topics: Supporter Management Strategy Fundraising