Easy ways to improve monthly donor retention

Last time, I shared a story about celebrating too soon and when I could not see the forest for the trees. Today, I want to share some practical things you can do to increase monthly giving retention that have been proven to work.

Let’s start with some general principles:

Your stewardship needs to reflect the solicitation. While you’ll usually not know exactly what drove the donor to become a monthly donor, the ongoing engagement needs to mirror the solicitation. They need not be twins, but they ought to be siblings. If you send out stewardship material that doesn’t resemble your ask, the donor will question what they have really agreed to.

Storytelling works. We, as a species, are storytellers. We had oral traditions before we wrote stuff down. Narrative is easier to remember. Lean into this.

Show your donors behind the scenes. We aren’t working in ivory towers and drinking from fine crystal at work – let them see.

Ideas you can steal today:

Postcards. I never thought it would work. It does. If you find a soft spot in your retention, such as at the six- or nine-month mark, add in a post card. Make it colourful and action oriented. We get so little mail nowadays that you’ll stand out. Compare that with our email inboxes. I’ve seen significant donor churn savings from well-placed postcards, signed by staff or volunteers.

Video. These don’t need to be fancy, high budget productions. Just the opposite in fact. How about a raw iPhone video from a program manager or someone with a unique role in your organization? It can be rough. It should look guerrilla rather than polished. It gives a sense of urgency, as if the team member just had to send this message to donors to show them the impact of their donations.

Share a beneficiary story. One of the best received stewardship pieces that ever came through my shop was an email from a beneficiary explaining how the organization helped. We topped and tailed it with some details from our CEO. It was quite boring to look at, but a high impact piece that drove a lot of positive donor feedback

Text out your latest impact report. As I wrote previously, open rates are HUGE and engagement time is strong. Be where your donors are and they are on their smartphones, just as we are.

Ask for an upgrade. Yes, I know I can’t mix fundraising and stewardship. However, I can prove that a good ask, well articulated, explaining the need for additional funds INCREASES attitudinal loyalty. Even if the donor chooses not to, there is still a net benefit to the “donor touch” and reminds your donor of your mission.

Try one of these or all of these. Pick your best content and reshape it for the format. You’re in a battle for the attention of your donors. Your artillery is your content. Put it to good use now.