Increased retention of donations and recurring donations

Donors and recurring donations

Donor retention is all about making the most of your existing pool of supporters. Learn how improving your relationship with your donors can improve your nonprofit’s bottom line.

donors and recurring donations

What is donor retention?

Donor retention is a term that refers to the number of donors who donate to your organization more than once. This measure is very important for non-profit organizations. A nonprofit organization that is successful in keeping its existing supporters as active contributors, while reaching out to new ones, will have consistent revenue and the promised growth.

Why is it important to improve donor retention?

An organization spends a lot of time, money, and effort finding supporters and cultivating a relationship with them to convert them into supporters. It is easier and cheaper to keep current donors than to get new ones. Once someone has donated to your organization, you already know that they feel a certain connection to you and the cause you represent, as they have made the decision to select you over other non-profit organizations.

For this reason, nonprofits should focus on how to retain and cultivate their donors.

What is recurring donation?

An important component of donor retention is «recurring donation.» Recurring gifting is the practice of a donor choosing to make an ongoing, repeating gift to a nonprofit organization. Donors who contribute regularly are known as repeat donors. Donations that are made on a regular basis are known as recurring donations or recurring gifts.

How do nonprofits benefit from recurring donations?

Recurring donations provide a reliable stream of income for nonprofit organizations. Having income you can count on helps ensure the sustainability of your nonprofit.

The lifetime return of a recurring donor is greater than that of a single donor. Repeat donors give 5 times more on average than one-time donors, and the average repeat donor will give for more than two years. While a single donation from a repeat donor may be smaller on average, the cumulative effect is greater over time.

Recurring donations create a seamless experience for your donor, increasing the chances that they will continue to support your nonprofit for longer.

5 steps to improve donor retention

Donors and recurring donations

With all of this in mind, it makes sense to put in the effort to ask your followers to become repeat donors. It doesn’t take much more work than asking for a one-time donation, however, it may require a change in your fundraising approach.

When you’re recruiting new donors, asking for a one-time donation is the best way to get them involved and familiar with your organization. Once you have made that initial gift, your response will determine the nature of your relationship in the future.

1. Show appreciation

Once someone has contributed to your organization, the first thing you should do is thank them and welcome them to your organization family. While this sounds obvious, it can be quite difficult for small nonprofits to keep up. Using automated emails can be a great solution for this. However, try to make them seem as personal as possible.

2. Constant communication

Get in the habit of sending regular updates to your donors, letting them know what the organization is doing. Send them photos and videos of your activity, greetings on holidays and birthdays, and notify them about your activities.

You can also keep your donors informed by inviting them to follow you on social media. However, remember that social media has little reach and not all of your followers see your updates. If you want to make sure your updates are received, try sending emails, text/WhatsApp messages, and updates on your organization page.

If your supporter contributed to a specific campaign, be sure to let them know how this campaign is progressing, how the money was spent, and what the donor’s impact was on this.

Remember, while it’s important to update your followers, you don’t want them to feel spammed. A monthly or even quarterly update should be enough to take it into account.

3. Ask for recurring donations.

This sounds obvious, but the fact is that many nonprofits don’t ask their supporters to sign up for monthly donations.

As part of your communication with your donors, be sure to ask directly «Would you consider becoming a monthly sponsor?»

4. Keep your donors involved in various ways

Even after donating to him once, not all of his followers will be willing to make it a regular arrangement. This does not mean that you should stop approaching them. There are plenty of ways your supporters can continue to help you that don’t involve opening your wallet.

For example, ask them to help you with an online task you need help with, such as technical help with your website, editing a video, or teaching an online class. You can also ask them to help you share your posts with your network or create a peer-to-peer fundraiser. By keeping your followers engaged with your nonprofit, they not only help you with these tasks, but also become more familiar with your organization, which can create solidarity and lead to more financial support in the future.

5. Measure

Finally, if you want to improve your donor retention, you need to define your starting point and the goal you want to achieve. By measuring changes in your donor retention rate over time, you can understand if your communication efforts are effective.

To calculate your annual donor retention rate:

– Add up the number of donors who gave you in a 12-month period

– Separately, add the number of donors from that same group who made a donation in the following year.

– Then divide year two by year one.

So, for example, if in 2020 you had 100 donors, and of those 11 donated again in 2021, then your retention rate for this year is 11/100, which is 11%.

You can calculate this in different time intervals of course (monthly, quarterly, etc.).

By measuring your retention rate regularly and comparing it to past results, you can easily tell if your efforts to improve donor retention are paying off.

Tratamiento de Donantes Recurrentes


Once you’ve «recruited» your recurring donor, don’t forget about them and don’t treat them like any other donor. These are your strongest followers and you want to be able to craft messages that are especially for them.

Be sure to segment your communications for repeat donors by placing them on a separate email list from your other email subscribers. For example, since they are already donating monthly, you don’t want to send them any more requests to become a repeat donor. His primary goal with repeat donors is to continue to nurture that relationship so that they stay.

In conclusion

Donors and recurring donations

The more recurring donors you attract, the more sustainable your nonprofit will be. Since it’s much easier to retain an existing donor than it is to attract a new one, you need to communicate well with your supporters to keep them engaged.