5 Tips to Cultivate Lasting Donor Relationships

Fearless Fundraisers, we have good news on giving trends for auctions, ticketed events, peer-to-peer campaigns, and online giving opportunities (e.g., challenges, giving days, awareness campaigns). These “social giving” opportunities are increasing!

Based on the OneCause 2022 Giving Experience Study, social donations are growing. In the last 12 months, approximately 1 in 3 donors participated in one of these social giving opportunities. That means almost 30% of the U.S. adult giving population is engaging in galas, golf tournaments, online challenges, peer-based campaigns, etc.

When you do the math, that means there were approximately 96.4 million people who participated in social giving in the 12 months prior to the 2022 survey. This continues an upward trend in social giving participation, which has risen 6% since 2018.

But once you have their attention, how do you keep today’s donors?

Even better news! Social donor loyalty is also growing, providing a huge base for nonprofits like yours to cultivate regular donors. Based on the study, 7 in 10 of today’s social donors said they are likely to become regular donors.

Yes, that’s right! Seventy percent of these donors said they are likely to give again and become repeat givers. With donor retention rates hovering below 50%, the opportunity to close your donor retention gap is real.

In this blog, we will explore the perfect recipe to boosting retention in 5 easy steps.

Here’s your inside scoop to build lasting relationships with today’s social donors. Let’s get started with these top social donor levers to increase retention:

  • Regularly share impact
  • Make sure the giving experience is easy
  • Leverage ambassadors to grow giving & trust
  • Foster inclusion & spread inspiration
  • Don’t forget the fun!

Tip 1: Regularly Share Impact

Social donors say organizations that demonstrate impact well do so by:

  • Showing who is helped – putting a face or story to those served.
  • Giving concrete examples of how their money is achieving the mission.
  • Communicating with transparency about finances and operations (services vs. overhead).
  • Regularly sharing results.

Review your communication strategies and channels to be sure your messaging tactics are sharing impact with your donors. Also take the time to assess and increase the frequency and placement of the impact best practices above.

Here are a few practical tips to get the most of your impact communications:

  • Incorporate pictures, videos, and imagery of those you serve in your communications to humanize your mission and the positive change effected by your cause.
  • For those organizations where anonymity and privacy are critical, use permission-granted testimonials from your constituents. Their words can share impact just as effectively!
  • Leverage impact statements in your communications, on social media, on your website – make sure they are concrete, actionable, and placed in multiple places throughout the donor journey. Examples: Your gift of $40 enabled us to X; Thanks to the $10K raised at our gala, we were able to feed Y families.
  • Be clear and transparent when disclosing financial information, particularly in the breakdown of services/programming versus overhead. Being clear with donors builds credibility and demonstrates a mutual relationship of trust between your cause and your supporters.
  • Share results often. Tell, show, and share the stories and the numbers of your success.

Not only are you showing your stewardship the impact of their hard-earned donations, but these touchpoint communications with your donors help close the loop and open the door to future generosity.

Touchpoint communications help close the loop and open the door to future generosity.

Tip 2: Make Sure Giving Experience is Easy

Ease breeds trust with today’s donors. Confidence is created through frictionless philanthropy, and making generosity easy not only creates a positive giving experience, but engenders confidence with and for your cause!

So, what do you need to do to ensure your giving process builds your nonprofit brand and deepens donor connections?

  • Take a look at your event donation page. Is it easy to understand? Does it match your organization’s branding?
  • Does your page or giving technology advertise secure processing as part of your giving experience? How and where do you communicate transaction security?
  • Make sure you offer flexibility. Today’s donors want choices – just like consumers do. Do you offer alternative payment methods from trusted platforms?

Remember, a quick, easy giving process with security indicators makes donors feel at ease, increasing the likelihood that they not only trust your cause, but that they will convert and ultimately come back.

Ease breeds trust with today’s donors. Confidence is created through frictionless philanthropy.

Tip 3: Leverage Ambassadors to Grow Giving & Trust

Leverage “ambassadors” (a.k.a ardent supporters, champions, highly visible supporters) to fundraise leading up to your event or as part of a larger campaign. Add competitive elements to make it fun (and rewarding) to actively champion your efforts and your cause.

Showing the faces and the stories of those out there supporting your efforts provides the social proof needed to gain the trust of new supporters.

When executing this tip, be sure to:

  • Have them post regularly on social about your event or campaign.
  • Recognize and tag your Ambassadors on social media.
  • Ask them to create simple videos about your cause and why they support it. Even better if they are wearing your branded swag!
  • Showcase ambassador stories on your website, giving pages, and other print channels.

Leveraging Ambassadors is a fun and easy way to use passion and people power to foster confidence with today’s donors.

Showing the faces and the stories of those out there supporting your efforts provides the social proof needed to gain the trust of new supporters.

Tip 4: Foster Inclusion & Spread Inspiration

Ever felt left out in a social situation? Don’t do that to your donors!

Examine communication and participation preferences across generations and plan accordingly:

  • Consider accessibility requirements for in-person and virtual events to create a more welcoming environment.
  • Provide affordable or free ticket options (whether in-person or virtual) for supporters who may not have the means to purchase tickets.
  • Offer VIP packages or tickets to your top volunteers as a way to invite all your top supporters, not just those that give.

Finding ways to make your supporters feel included and emphasizing that all donors matter and are welcome builds trust.

Emphasizing that all donors matter and are welcome builds trust.

Tip 5: Don’t Forget the Fun!

Like anything in life, having fun puts people in a positive frame of mind and deepens their connection to your cause. Be sure to keep this in mind when planning your next fundraiser.

Create an atmosphere (in-person or online) that has energy and uses a variety of communication strategies to drive excitement! Put yourself in the shoes of your donors:

  • What fun elements do you have planned?
  • How long is your programming? Don’t kill the fun with long programs and speeches!
  • What ways do you have to build community online or in-person at your events?

As we emerge from the pandemic, it’s as important as ever to connect your donors to your mission with fundraising activities that make giving easy and fun. It keeps your recurring donors engaged and helps turn first-time donors into giving believers.

Having fun puts people in a positive frame of mind and deepens their connection to your cause.

Keep Building Trust!

There’s an entire ecosystem of generosity motivators that contribute to building a solid and lasting foundation of trust in your mission. If you want more information on trust the other top motivators driving today’s donors, check out our Giving Experience 2023.

Most importantly – remember, just as you are out there actively seeking support for your cause, you must also make growing public confidence and credence in your mission a part of your strategy. Building trust can increase the likelihood of a first donation from a brand-new supporter and boosts retention and recurring giving amongst your current supporter base.

Wrapping Up!

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This post was written by Kelly Velasquez Hague. Kelly brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and marketing experience to her role as the director of content marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause  marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors to raise more funds for their causes.