53% of donors leave due to the charity’s lack of communications. That’s according to the latest findings from Bloomerang and their guest post on the Non-Profit Marketing Blog. I’ve talked about how donors don’t care about you and why you should care more about retention but the question is: how can you retain your donors? Simple. Talk to them. Talk to them more. Talk to them more specifically. Talk to them about what they want to talk about (not what you want to say).

Here’s the data/infographic where the 53% figure comes from.

donor loyalty infographic


So… How Can You Retain Your Donors?



Sending more than one email every three months? But what if they get upset? A common question I get when pushing organizations to move to a monthly communication schedule (at least). The reality is, if a donor is upset by getting an email once a month they either: didn’t give you the proper authority to email them (meaning you just hijacked their email and started emailing them), don’t appreciate the content you are sending them (probably all about you, how great you are and how you need money) or they don’t care that much about you in the first place. You can really only control the first two (how you acquire and what you send) and if they don’t care about you then aren’t your core supporters anyways so forget about them.

Donors, almost universally, love to hear how they are making a difference and the impact they are having through your organization. So why are you hesitant to tell them? I guarantee you, GUARANTEE, you’ll lose more donors by not communicating then you will by over communicating. (NOTE: you must also adhere to the following two points for the GUARANTEE to be valid…)


Dear Friend, thanks for your support helping impact the lives of hundreds of children around the world.

Look familiar? That’s how a lot of charities talk to their donors. I’ve written many letters just like that myself. The intent is good (thanking and showing impact) but the execution is lacking. Not knowing WHO you are talking to, WHAT they did and HOW it is making an impact, specifically, can make your good intent into a bad communication piece.

Dear Brady, thank you for your $50 that will help provide quality education to children like John at Kampala Elementary School in Uganda for one month.

In a perfect world you could go on and tell John’s story about how his life has been changed because of education at Kampala Elementary School but even if you don’t, talking in specifics shows that you know the donor (WHO they are, WHAT they did and HOW it is making an impact) and it shows you know what you are doing (by the fact you know WHO they are, WHAT they did and HOW it is making an impact). That builds trust and trust is the only thing that matters when it comes to fundraising and especially when keeping donors.

To talk more specifically to donors you need to care about the specifics and want to talk specifically. Trying to get the specifics AFTER the fact is a fruitless venture. You have to plan for it. It shapes how you capture donor data and program information. Think about the specifics to talk more specifically.


This one is important because if you talk to donors more often (good) and talk to them more specifically (good) but you talk tot hem about crappy things (like your budget, how great you are and how you need more of their money) then it is all for naught. Donors want to feel good. So tell them things that make them feel good. Like how they are making an impact. Donors want to trust the charities they give to. So tell them things that build that trust. Like where exactly their money was used. Donors love to hear stories. So tell them stories. Like one person (emphasis on ONE) whose life was changed because of donor support. Donors love to get all these things (feel good, trust building and story based communications) in different formats like pictures, videos and infographics in addition to writings. So tell them through pictures, videos and infographics in addition to writings.

Your donors are the hero of the story, not your organization. It might be easy for you to just write that email and send it through the email program that is part of your CRM but if it sucks for the donor don’t do it. It might be easy for you to raise money in a way that makes it easy on your accounting people but if it sucks for your the donor don’t do it. It might be easy for your programs people to just get numbers and not collect an individual story but if it sucks for your donor don’t do it.

If you are like 97% of charities that are haemorrhaging donors at more than a 30% rate (losing more than 30% of donors year over year) then whatever you are doing is not working. So try talking to your donors more, talking to your donors more specifically and talking to your donors about what they want to talk about (not what you want to say).