July 28, 2023

10 Strategies To Boost Donor Retention Rates For Nonprofits

10 Strategies To Boost Donor Retention Rates For Nonprofits

Donors are the lifeline of nonprofits. But yet, every year, nonprofits keep losing donors more than acquiring new ones. On average, only about half of the donors who give in one year will come back to donate again in the following year.

If nonprofits work on retaining donors by just a few percentage points, it can lead to a significant increase in revenue. To achieve this, nonprofits must first understand donor retention and its importance.  

What is donor retention, and why does it matter?

Donor retention in a nonprofit organization refers to its ability to retain its donors over time. It is a crucial metric that measures the percentage of donors who continue to support the organization through ongoing contributions or donations in subsequent years. 

In simple terms, it measures the rate at which donors stay engaged and continue to give to the nonprofit after their initial donation. 

Although online donations are on the rise, it is comparatively challenging to retain online donors when compared to offline donors, but the gap has been narrowing as online fundraising and engagement improve. 

Why does donor retention matter?

A little improvement in donor retention can work wonders for the long-term growth of your nonprofit. Let’s see how. 


Acquiring new donors can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is more cost-effective to retain existing donors. They are already familiar with the organization's mission and have demonstrated their willingness to support it.

Financial stability

A regular revenue stream from donors will provide financial stability for the nonprofit. It will help them plan and implement their programs more effectively and with certainty. 

Increased lifetime value

When you compare one-time donors with donors who continue to support your non-profit over time, it is the latter that contribute more cumulatively, making them valuable assets for the organization. 

Enhanced donor relationships

When nonprofits focus on donor retention strategies, it naturally improves their relationship with their supporters. This eventually leads to increased trust and engagement. 

Amplified impact

Long-term donors continue to support the nonprofit’s mission, allowing better implementation of projects and initiatives. This sustained effort leads to a greater positive impact on the community.

Measure of effectiveness

The higher the donor retention, the better the nonprofit’s impact. Donor retention indicates how well a nonprofit is meeting its donors’ expectations. 

So, as you see, improving donor retention matters, as nonprofits tend to gain tremendously from it. 

How do you calculate the donor retention rate?

Now that we know that donor retention matters, let’s see how to calculate the donor retention rate. It is a metric used by nonprofits to measure the percentage of donors who continue to support the organization over a specific period, typically from one year to the next. 

Here’s the formula:

Donor Retention Rate = (Number of Donors Retained / Total Number of Donors from Previous Year) x 100

For example, if a nonprofit had 500 donors at the beginning of the year and 300 of those donors contributed again during the year, the donor retention rate would be:

Donor Retention Rate = (300 / 500) x 100 = 60%

This indicates that 60% of the donors from the previous year continued to support the nonprofit in the current year.  

10 strategies to boost donor retention rates for nonprofits

A high donor retention rate is essential for the sustainability and success of a nonprofit, as it signifies the organization's ability to keep donors engaged and motivated to contribute over time. 

First-year donors are often the most challenging to retain. Donor retention tends to improve significantly for donors who give for multiple years. The retention rate for donors who have given for two or more consecutive years is generally higher, around 60% to 70%. So, your effort for donor retention has to focus on first-year donors and, subsequently, others. 

But then the question arises - How to boost donor retention rates? We have outlined 10 strategies for it.

1. Conduct donor surveys and seek feedback

Long-term donors often provide valuable insights and feedback that can help nonprofits improve their strategies and overall performance. Benefit from the long-term association of such donors by sending out survey forms periodically to understand their opinions. 

Act on the feedback received and make improvements based on donor suggestions. This way, you show donors that their opinions are valued and that their input contributes to the organization's growth and impact.

2. Leverage nonprofit data to enhance donor engagement

Make good use of the CRM for your nonprofit to analyze donor data and identify trends, patterns, and giving behaviors. 

What you need to do is segment the existing donors based on their interests, donation history, and engagement level.

You can then use this data to create personalized communication and targeted campaigns that resonate with specific donor segments.

3. Showcase and communicate your impact

Donors love hearing from you about how their contributions are making an impact. So, ensure that you provide clear and tangible evidence of donor contributions and their difference.     

Share success stories, testimonials, and real-life examples of the impact via nonprofit email.

Use data and statistics to convince them of the measurable outcomes of your programs and initiatives. 

4. Craft personalized donor messages

Show appreciation for each donor's specific contributions and the role they play in achieving the organization's mission.

Make it more personal by addressing donors by their names in the communication. Dig out the donor interests and their previous giving history from the CRM for your nonprofit. Mention their contributions and thank them in your email or personal letter. 

5. Follow up with context and reference

Don’t just stop after receiving donations from people. Follow up promptly with personalized thank-you emails and letters. 

Along with that, send updates on the progress of the projects or initiatives the donor contributed to.

And stay in touch with donors throughout the year with relevant news and updates about the organization's work. This way, you set the stage for long-term relationships with your donors. 

6. Promote recurring donations for long-term support

The best way to convert a one-time donor into a consistently giving donor is by encouraging them to sign up for your monthly giving programs. 

To do this, highlight the convenience and impact of recurring donations on sustaining the nonprofit's operations.

And don’t forget to regularly communicate with recurring donors to keep them engaged and informed.

7. Use events to cultivate donor relationships

How do you make your donors feel special? Organize donor appreciation events to recognize and thank supporters.

Hosting such events helps you showcase the organization's work and provide opportunities for donors to interact with beneficiaries. 

You can also use these events as a platform to share upcoming projects, promote online donations, and inspire continued support.

8. Empower and acknowledge your volunteers

While strengthening relationships with doors is of utmost importance, it is equally crucial to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers who contribute to the organization's success.

Engage volunteers in donor stewardship activities, such as making thank-you calls or writing personalized notes. Also, showcase how volunteers and donors can work together to create a greater impact.  

9. Enhance your online presence to engage donors

Maintain an informative and user-friendly website that showcases the organization's mission, impact, and donation options.

Be active on social media to engage with donors, share updates, and celebrate milestones. Also, design nonprofit email marketing campaigns to stay in touch with donors and provide regular updates on the organization's activities.

But first, create an online donation page or form on the custom fundraising software GivingX. You can then share the link to this page or form on your email and social media handles. Embed this donation page on your website to route all the donations to one secured destination.    

10. Express gratitude to your donors

Don’t measure the usefulness of your donors by their donation amount. Express gratitude promptly and sincerely after every donation, regardless of the amount.

Show the concrete ways their donations are being used and how they are making a positive change.

Your nonprofit prospers when you treat all donors with respect. Consider personalized thank-you notes or videos to make donors feel valued and appreciated.

Wrapping Up

Implement these 10 strategies to boost donor retention rates for your nonprofit. Remember, while larger donors may have a higher likelihood of being retained, smaller donors who feel personally connected to the cause can also exhibit high retention rates. Make a collective effort to retain your donors. Once done, your nonprofit can enjoy its benefits for the long term.

Start implementing your donor retention strategies by creating an online donation page on the custom fundraising software GivingX. Share this page link with your donors to streamline online donations and improve your donor retention rate.