From Acquisition to Retention

How many donors continue to give to your organization?

If your acquisition strategy is solid, it can help your organization secure new donors as repeat donors. Let’s look first at how to collect donor information, and then at how you should look to use your donor data to encourage giving again and again.

Keep your donation form simple:

sample donation form


You don’t need to collect data on every single aspect about your donors the very first time they give. Forming a relationship with donors is a gradual process.

The more straight forward and to the point your donation form is, the more likely your donors will complete the process. Ask too much or include multiple distractions on the page, and you run the risk of abandonment.

A lot of web donation forms have a lot going on: top and side bar navigation, search tools, advertisements, email opt-ins, promotions for events … you get the picture. Don‚Äôt make this mistake!

Acquisition is a necessary first step before you can even think about retention¬†or¬†keeping donor interest for the future. Don’t overlook how much you can get out of two simple pieces of personal information: an email address, and a billing address.

Using donor data to build relationships: Once you’ve collected¬†donor¬†information through¬†donation forms from first time gifts, make your data work for you in your¬†donor retention program.

  • Email Address: Capture email contact information¬†on donation forms as a method to¬†send donation receipts through¬†email. No one is going to¬†reject entering in¬†their email if it’s a¬†required field. In fact, offering email receipts will¬†most likely be more convenient for your donors since delivery will¬†be instantaneous. And, it works in your favor too because you can now¬†incorporate email newsletters as a method of further communication to nurture a relationship with donors. When you send your first emails, include an option for which types of content donors wish to receive in future emails. This way, you can eliminate the likelihood of un-subscriptions, while also building a unique profile of your donors’ interests that can be used when asking for future donations.
  • Billing Address:¬†Billing information is another¬†necessary component for completing any donation form. Don’t just let your list of addresses sit there for the next time a donor¬†(hopefully) gives again. Use it to open another channel of communication to foster¬†donor relations: direct mail. ¬†While email and online communication are¬†great, direct mail can add¬†a nice personal touch that your donors will appreciate. Building a lasting¬†relationship with donors is the key to keeping them. Send a personalized letter in the mail thanking them for their gift‚ÄĒand do it immediately. It will often be received as a more genuine gesture than simply a ‚Äėthank you‚Äô email that runs the risk of¬†being interpreted¬†as just a depersonalized automated email sent to all donors. Direct mail doesn’t only have to be a way to say thanks. As a communication channel, it can also be used to vary the methods in which you send updates about¬†your organization.

From acquisition to retention:

After you begin to use donor data to build genuine relationships with your newly acquired donors, there are two primary steps you can take to improve donor retention.

1 . Offer multiple channels for giving. Collecting an email address and a billing address allow you to communicate with donors through direct mail and email. Use these communication channels to promote new ways of giving. Have Text-to-Give? Include your number in direct mail campaigns. Include an educational e-newlsetter segment on how to give through social media.

2 . Offer an express donation option for giving so that when donors look to make additional donations, they can do so in two clicks without having to re-enter their personal information (you already have it stored, so why should they?) or remember username/password credentials.

In order to improve donor retention rates, you must realize that keeping donors is a long term process that requires consistent attention. While acquiring new donors may seem like a more tangible goal that provides results in the short term, building meaningful relationships with current donors will bring the most success in the long run. And you already have the necessary pieces of information from first-time donors to put your retention program in action.

For example, you can always collect your pledge donations at a later point; the most important task at hand is simply making it fast and easy for donors to pledge their support in the first place. Providing a quick, seamless experience that makes them feel good not only deepens your relationships but also ensures that almost all of them will complete their donations on their own.


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