Donor Retention: How to Get Donors to Give on a Recurring Basis

01/15/2019 5 min read Written by Jenny Traster

In the nonprofit industry, new donors are like gold. But did you know that almost 3 out of 4 new donors only donate once, never to return? And of those who do donate on a recurring basis, 42% give more than first-time donors on an annual basis? With these stats, it’s pretty apparent that retaining donors should be top on your list. Here are our marketing strategies to lower donor attrition.

As always, before implementing any strategies, make sure you thoroughly know your audience. If you’re having trouble retaining people, there could be an issue with your personas. Re-visit them frequently to make sure you’re reaching the correct people. Once you know for sure, it will be easier to apply our inbound strategies.

Download: Developing Personas for Your NonProfit


Email marketing is one of the best and simplest ways to communicate with your potential donors. And for nonprofits, the average open rate is 15%-18%, meaning you’ll likely get eyes on your message. By employing various types of email campaigns, you can engage with your audience and make them donors, and repeat donors. Here are examples of simple campaigns to implement now.

Welcome Campaign

If someone signs up for one of your email newsletters, they have an interest in your organization. So, welcome them with open arms. Don’t immediately begin asking them for money as it could potentially turn them off.

Express your mission and goals with a simple email that introduces them to your newsletter. With an introductory email that outlines the basis of your nonprofit, they’ll get a sense of your dedication to your cause. Then, when it comes time to donate – and donate again – they’ll remember your warm introduction and feel more inclined to give.

Emails with Incentives

Donors like feeling special and appreciated by charities. Email campaigns with incentives for further engagement will present you as giving and trustworthy. Send out personalized invites to events, early access to tickets for charity causes, free raffle tickets, and rewards for volunteering to impress your current donors.


If someone has been a repeat donor in the past but has fallen off the wagon – they could have forgotten, or become busy. An email campaign that alerts them of this could increase the potential of them donating again. Consider sending emails with reminders such as, “It’s been 11 months since you last donated” or “Giving Tuesday is 2 months away” to keep your nonprofit on the top of their minds.

Campaign Goals

Nonprofits who update their basis every five days raise three times more than their competitors. Sending emails that alert your donors of your campaign goals in this manner is a quick way to encourage them to donate again. Telling them you’re, “$800 from our $10,000 goal” will inspire them to help.


For many nonprofits, they wouldn’t exist without their loyal donors. If they feel undervalued, they may not donate again. Make sure to send individualized thank you emails to snow you genuinely respect and honor the difference they’re making.

Also read: How Your Nonprofit Can Use Marketing Automation to Drive Donations

Social Media

Similar to email, social media is a great way to interact with your audience and urge them to donate time and time again. Simply being active across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can positively impact your nonprofit’s perception. Among active users across these main channels, 59% of those people donate money to nonprofits they feel consistently, authentically, thoughtfully use social media to promote their charity’s mission.

You can repurpose some of your email campaigns to fit on social media. Welcoming new followers with personalized messages shows you’re invested in them from day one. Offering incentives – perhaps slightly different from the ones included in your emails to make your content unique – displays you're interested in them at an individual matter. Sharing stories of your reoccurring donors makes them feel special and demonstrates your respect. Highlighting your volunteers on social media further drives home your cause – and when people see those around them contributing to a cause, they want to as well.

Post your links to your donation pages and event registrations makes giving to your organization painless and easy. Facebook integrates your donation portal straight to their platform by offering a “Donate Now” button. Charities can link their Twitter accounts to PayPal and allow their followers to tweet at them with the hashtag donate. The easier you make it for your donors to give, the more likely they’ll do so and become repeat donors.

Also read: 5 Social Media Trends Nonprofits Must Know for 2019


When someone sees their name in a subject line, tweet, or form, they’re more likely to open and respond. Throughout your email and social media campaigns, try your best to personalize your messages.

With the use of a marketing automation system, personalizing emails is effortless. Social media may take a little extra, but it’s worth it. Adding a person’s name can increase your response rate by up to 500% versus not adding their name. Segmenting your email lists into categories like “first time donor, never donated, repeat donor” and catering content to that audience can have the same effect.

Also read: How to Increase Conversions on Your Nonprofit Landing Pages

Showing you care through consistency and personalized messaging with email and social media will strengthen the bonds with your donors. If you approach each donor by creating a meaningful relationship like this they will come back and donate year after year. To get your strategies in place, contact us today.

By: Jenny Traster

With a love of HubSpot dating back to 2010, Jenny works with clients to put the pieces of the inbound marketing puzzle together, from content marketing and social media management to demand generation and lead nurturing. When she’s not digging through data or reading the latest in social media trends, you’re most likely to find her traveling, practicing yoga or hiking with her dogs in the great outdoors.

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