Donor Engagement vs Donor Retention: Julep Explains
Do any kind of research on nonprofit fundraising, and you’ll stumble upon phrases like, “donor engagement,” and “donor retention.” While there is overlap between these two terms, there are key differences between both of these terms, which are critical to successful nonprofit fundraising.
What does it mean?
Commonly-used in the philanthropy world, the phrase “donor retention,” refers to keeping contributors and supporters connected to your organization. It can refer to fundraising tactics, membership events, volunteering, media attention, social media updates and other ways that organizations share information with key audiences.
How is “retention” different?
This is a key metric used by nonprofits to see how many donors they keep year-to-year. Overall, nonprofits only keep about half of their donors after one year. Because of this high drop-off, nonprofits are constantly recruiting new donors to replace the lost ones.
While there are tactics and strategies that organizations can follow to re-connect with lapsed donors, nonprofits must have robust donor engagement programs to boost their donor retention rates.
Both start with thank you.
The key to keeping donors engaged so that your retention rate remains high is to promptly thank them. When people contribute money to an organization, they want to receive a prompt confirmation that their gift was received and information about how their generosity is helping others. Regardless if the donor contributed $5 or $5 million, it’s urgent to thank people as quickly as possible.
This is why you need to start by drafting a stewardship plan before focusing on any other way to connect with your donors. Thanking them is that important.
Connect where you first met.
If your donors came in through social media, keep connecting with them through that network. If their first donation was through email, continue engaging them that way. Communicating through their preferred channel is a key step to successful donor engagement.