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4 Strategies to Build Strong Relationships with New Donors

by Andrew Blatney

In the modern nonprofit world, retaining new donors is an essential, but increasingly challenging goal.

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, new donor retention has decreased in the last few years. The new donor retention rate in 2021 was just 18.6%, much lower than the average overall donor retention rate of 45%.

However, repeat donor retention rates are much higher—2021 saw a repeat retention rate of 60.7%. If your organization can earn a second gift from new donors, your retention rates will increase dramatically.

This guide will cover four strategies for building stronger relationships with new donors to increase recurring giving and boost retention:

  1. Get To Know New Donors
  2. Maintain Open Communication
  3. Invite Donors To Engage In New Ways
  4. Ask For New Donors’ Feedback

These best practices will help you form long-lasting relationships with all kinds of new donors, including online donors and small, mid-size, and major donors.

1. Get To Know New Donors

There is plenty of overlap between nonprofit and for-profit organizations, especially when it comes to customer or supporter expectations. According to the Next in Personalization 2021 Report, 72% of shoppers said they want the businesses they buy from to acknowledge them as individuals and understand their interests.

The same is true for your nonprofit’s supporters. Your donors, especially your new donors, will respond more favorably when you make genuine efforts to get to know them, rather than just asking for their donations.

Getting to know your donors and personalizing your outreach to them is easier with the help of nonprofit software tools. In particular, your donor management software will help you track supporter interactions and understand new donors on a deeper level.

Bloomerang’s guide to donor management software explains how these systems can help you access the following supporter information:

  • Publically available wealth information
  • Past involvement with your nonprofit, such as volunteer work or as a beneficiary
  • Past philanthropic giving history
  • Constituent timelines that track every interaction supporters have with your nonprofit, including opening emails, attending events, etc.

If your internal database lacks any information about new supporters, you can also use an append service to add missing data. For example, NPOInfo explains that demographic appending is the process of pulling information such as age, gender, income, and ethnicity from external, third-party sources.

Using a combination of internal and external data resources, you can learn more about your new supporters and determine the best ways to connect with them. For example, you can make decisions about the right communication platforms to use, aspects of your mission to emphasize, and when is the best time to ask for another donation.

2. Maintain Open Communication

Trust is a crucial element in any strong relationship. When new donors see your organization as trustworthy and responsive, they’ll feel more comfortable contributing additional donations.

Foster trust with new donors using these communication techniques:

  • Use your marketing platforms to show the impact of donations: Show donors that you’re using their donations how you said you would. For example, provide status updates on your programs in your email newsletter or share testimonials from community members on your social media pages.
  • Be proactive about sharing challenges: Sometimes, you may not meet your fundraising goals, or your projects might get off track. Don’t sugarcoat any obstacles your organization faces. New donors will respect your commitment to transparency, especially when you outline clear strategies for addressing setbacks.
  • Provide tours of your facilities: Let new donors see your organization’s activities in person by giving tours of your facilities or headquarters. This can help new donors feel more connected to your mission and allow them to get to know your staff.
  • Let donors know who they can go to with questions: Give donors the contact information for the person on your staff they can go to with questions or concerns. Donors will appreciate your efforts to be responsive and accommodating.
New donors want to know that your nonprofit is a responsible steward of their funds and that you’re dedicated to improving your weaker areas. As you communicate updates, pay attention to engagement metrics so you can determine the platforms and type of content that appeals best to supporters.

3. Invite Donors To Engage In New Ways

Your nonprofit has a lot to offer, from volunteer opportunities to supporter-led fundraising campaigns. Many of your new donors would likely be interested in getting involved with other opportunities besides donating.

Inviting new donors to participate in additional activities can grow your relationships with them and introduce them to other aspects of your mission. Encourage donors to get involved with activities like:

  • Volunteering: Volunteering gives donors a first-hand look at the impact of their gifts. They can form bonds with your team members and fellow volunteers. Plus, if donors work for a company that offers volunteer grants, they can contribute a corporate-sponsored donation after working with your organization for a specific amount of time.
  • Advocacy: Encourage donors to sign petitions, share social media posts, or speak to family members and friends about your organization’s mission. Make sure to recognize those who participate in advocacy efforts with a social media shout-out or personalized thank you message.
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: In a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, supporters will create personalized donation pages to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. This allows them to take on the role of fundraiser rather than just donor, which can help them feel more connected to your nonprofit and its mission.
  • Events: Invite donors to attend your virtual, in-person, or hybrid events, including your donor appreciation events, galas, or holiday celebrations. Make sure to invite donors to events where the sole focus isn’t just on gathering more donations, but rather on showing appreciation to supporters.
When donors feel passionate about your cause, they’ll be more likely to continue engaging with your nonprofit for the long term. Prompting new donors to engage with these opportunities can help them find aspects of your mission that appeal the most to them.

4. Ask For New Donors’ Feedback

Donor feedback can be incredibly useful, especially from new donors who bring a unique perspective. They might have fresh ideas about how your nonprofit can fundraise more efficiently or better appeal to supporters’ preferences.

Create new donor surveys with questions like:

  • What led you to donate to our organization?
  • How convenient was the donation process?
  • Do you have any suggestions for making the process easier?
  • What are your preferred communication methods and social media platforms?
  • What types of events would you be interested in attending?
  • On a scale from “not likely” to “very likely,” how likely are you to donate to our organization again?
Asking donors for their input shows them that you value their opinions. But it’s even more impactful when you actually implement donors’ recommendations. New donors will appreciate that your organization is responsive to feedback and willing to adapt to their preferences.
After new donors give for the first time, your nonprofit needs to go the extra mile to secure their ongoing support. Building genuine relationships with new donors is key to earning their trust and contributions for the long term. These strategies can help your nonprofit cultivate lifelong donor partnerships and set you on the right path toward increasing your retention rate.

Learn more about how Charity Dynamics can help increase your outreach and fundraising potential