Fundraising: Retain Your Donors and Keep Them Coming Back

A feature image for a blog on raising funds in the arts.

As a creative, you’re probably going to have more than one project and you’re going to have to rely on the generosity of others to accomplish your goals. I’ve been there—numerous times. Because of that, I know how hard it is getting people to contribute to your cause or your project. Then to turn around and encourage them to come back and offer more for your next project can be even harder. Retaining donors is difficult–only 43% of donors gift again the following year and only 27% of first-time donors ever donate again. But I won’t let those numbers deter me—and either should you. There are many ways to persuade donors to give to your project again in the future. Here are a few tips on how to hold onto donors and encourage them to give again:

Give Each Donor a Personalized ‘Thank You’

Most donors expect a generic auto-receipt to show that their donation was received. A personalized thank you goes a long way:

– Give a personal shout out on your website

– A thank you donor package

– Handwritten thank you letters

– Send anniversary cards (date of their donation)

It will set you apart from the rest and make you memorable. Show them that they’re worth more to you than just their money. Tell them how much you appreciate their donation and give them a small explanation as to how you’re going to be using it to accomplish your goal. If you can, address it to a specific person and sign it. But it doesn’t stop there. The next thing you should be thinking about is showing them how their contribution has impacted your project.

Follow Up and Report on the Impact of Their Donation

People want to know where their money is going. No one wants to hand out money and feel like nothing came from it. The best way to show people how their money has contributed to your project is to develop impact or success stories and showcase them on your social media, website, or newsletter. Use your social media to give shout outs to your contributors and highlight the different ways in which you put their donations to use. This allows donors the opportunity to follow along with your progress. It is a very easy and simple way to highlight the impact they had on your success.

Celebrate Donors with Positive Reinforcement

When it comes time to asking your donors again for money, the best thing you can do is re-establish how their previous contribution helped you out. Remind them of their initial donation and why they donated in the first place. Rekindle that passion. Mention how wonderful they are. Make them feel good about themselves and the support they provided you in the past. If you make it feel personal and exciting, donors will most likely be just as excited to help you out once more.

Reach Out and Ask Donors for Feedback

The reason why I mention this tip is to encourage you to find ways to determine why donors donated in the first place. It can’t hurt. Understanding what motivates your donors can only help you in the future. You’ll know why donors contributed in the first place and you’ll have an idea as to how to reach out to them in the future. Not only that you’ll be able to determine which donors might be willing to donate again and get a sense of much. Reaching out can only increase the data for your donor database.

Obviously, there is no sure way to keeping donors and you might think it’s easier just to look for new ones. But if you can manage to hold onto donors and establish strong relationships with them, you’ll have an easier time making your fundraising goals for future projects.

As I mentioned before, if you haven’t already, one of the best things you can do is create a solid database that keeps track of your contributors. You’ll be able to analyze your donor engagement and see which donors you can potentially retain easier than others.

 

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