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A first gift is not the endgame. When a donor makes their first gift, we want it to be the initial step in a lifelong, loyal relationship. Many nonprofits get hung up on pouring dollars into acquisition but don’t think about the next step with these donors. At Redstone Marketing, we’re shifting perspectives and helping nonprofits focus on the incredible donor lifetime value that comes with investing in loyalty and nurture programs.



Why donor retention should be your A-game

When you have good donor retention rates you have good donor engagement which means you will have good lifetime value. Knowing donors will give again allows organisations to plan and make fundraising decisions with more stability.

Here are our tips on creating sustainable donor relationships for thriving lifelong friendships.


How to successfully onboard your new donor at each stage of the donor cycle

One way to track the progress of a donor is by establishing where they’re at in the donor cycle. This lays out the journey in which a donor should progress in your organisation: from acquisition to bequest. It is highly unlikely that every donor will agree to leave a gift in their will, but having a strategy and sequence in place won’t hurt.

At each stage of the donor pipeline, there should be a strategy for progressing each donor through each segment. We have outlined some steps below.


1. Acquire the right kind of donor

When acquiring new donors think about what you are communicating.

Is your pack so full of “gifts” that the donor can’t refuse to make a gift OR have you communicated your organisations “need” and “solution” so well that you have tapped into shared values with your donor? At Redstone, we have found that the donors who make 2nd gift are the ones that are truly aligned with your cause.

Creating acquisition packs surrounding your main message rather than incentivising a one-off donation will attract those who truly want to make a difference because it is important to their values, not because you included a cute tote bag in your mailing. Yes, we have seen this done time and time again and thankfully it is beginning to cease.


2. Warming the new donor toward a second gift

Once in the door, welcome your donor.

Welcome them to your cause, the area of work they initially gave to, highlight other ways to support your organisation and ways to get involved; volunteering, gifts in kind, corporate giving, workplace giving, peer-to-peer fundraising, community fundraising, events, and the list goes on…

Then begin the donor journey, the nurturing cycle – you must build the relationship before asking for a second gift.

Creating your content, template and timeline for the donor journey is critical. This will allow the onboarding to happen seamlessly for the donor and reduce staff time to manage the process. By having it planned and created upfront you will be delivering a well thought out journey rather than a responsive one that can ruin the donor experience.


3. Time to become regular

Once a donor has been giving to one-off appeals for a certain amount of time it is time to test RG (Regular Giving) Conversion.

At this point, data analysis will help guide you on the right segment to approach for conversion. Once you have identified the group send them the conversion pack and follow-up sequence. Redstone Marketing has a lot of experience and success in this donor development area and we know the right time to contact them, the right message and the best way to achieve sign-ups, so reach out for a quick chat if you’re ready for this donor development activity. And remember to make signing up for regular giving as easy as possible. The fewer hoops to jump through the better the conversion rate.


4. Meet the desires of your mid-value and high-value donors

According to findings, 38% of non-profits make no change to their email strategy for recurring donors, and 58% make no change for direct mail.

One-off frequent givers, especially those of mid and high value, are your nonprofit’s VIPs. Give them the opportunity to make a greater impact by giving them options to give in a more tailored way. We have found that an Annual Appeal to these donors at Tax time where the Ask is more tangible works very well and can be rolled out year on year to create familiarity and achieve higher average gifts.

In summary, acquiring new donors is critical because they are the segment that feed your entire donor pipeline. Whatever you do, DO NOT start acquiring donors without a donor retention plan in place (Donor Journey). The moment a first gift is made the journey, the friendship, the life-long relationship begins.


Need help with mapping out your own donor relationship nurture program? Get on a free 15-minute call with us today.

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