min read
March 15, 2022

14 Ways For Nonprofits To Acquire And Retain Donors In 2022

14 Ways For Nonprofits To Acquire And Retain Donors In 2022
Table of contents

Anyone passionate about a cause will find running a non-profit emotionally rewarding. While your passion knows no bounds, you might struggle with the monetary feasibility due to various challenges. 

Fundraisers are the backbone of any non-profit organization, but finding funds can often be tricky. In recent times, due to the lockdown procedures, the world witnessed struggling economies and limitations in offline fundraisers, which led to an initial decrease in acquiring monetary funds

But luckily, hidden in the cracks of the chaos was the hope for a better future. Soon enough, the need to help people rapidly took over, and the world witnessed incredible generosity. 

Donations surged, with a 12.6% rise in non-profit contributions in 2020. It not only fostered donor-centric relationships but also assisted the people in need. Organizations must therefore attempt to retain such one-off donations. But, how?

Think of it this way: The donors give the organization their money and precious time. Hence, one must build a two-way street by personally connecting with the sponsors. 

To achieve this difficult task, we outline the best-curated list of ways to ensure continued long-lasting connections with your contributors. Whether your non-profit faces challenges due to the pandemic or is in a period of transition, you can utilize these strategies to adjust and enhance your fundraising capabilities. 

Why is acquiring and retaining donors so important?

Having a non-profit organization means that it relies heavily on funds and the generosity of like-minded contributors. Without monetary benefits, any non-profit will plummet to its demise. 

While the acquisition of donors is the key that drives the car, one must understand that retention begins way before acquiring a new patron.  

Moreover, retaining a high number of annual contributors means that you can acquire: 

  • New prospects 
  • Successfully plan campaigns 
  • Higher engagement metrics 
  • Better awareness 

In short, higher acquisition leads to better retention rates, which facilitates better fundraising capabilities and totals. Non-profits can access more significant donations and lifetime value while gaining data through a successful acquisition and retention campaign. 

What is donor experience? 

Like every other interaction, first impressions or the initial user experience is crucial. It solidifies their trust in your organization and facilitates retention by giving them a worthwhile experience. 

Any organization would want to retain its old sponsors and acquire new contributors too. The only way to achieve this is going full circle and investing heftily in perfecting the donor experience. Indeed, it is similar to every customer interaction, but the experience strategy would be different. 

With an unstable donor experience, you could easily break the organization's image. 

Benefits, convenience, communication methods, and preferences define any non-profits donor experience. Hence, to map it out effectively, you need to focus on patron engagement processes such as: 

  • Designing and charting the campaign outline 
  • Facilitating activities and reward systems 
  • Interactions between sponsors and your organization 

Following these steps will allow any non-profit to deepen their relationship with an acquired or retained contributor by keeping them engaged. 

Remember: Satisfaction from the donor experience will most often lead to more contributions and donations to your non-profit initiatives. 

What does the modern donor want? 

The key to boosting your contributor count is understanding what modern donors want. 

The answer is simple.

Non-profits must aim to humanize their work and create missions that resonate with like-minded sponsors. Hence, tailored donor experience has become a vital essence for any non-profit. A typical modern contributor will look for emotional attachment to your organization, seeking: 

  • A feeling of alliance and awareness 
  • Appreciation for involvement 
  • And expectations of a nurturing relationship 

Today, transparency and story-telling are essential to acquire modern patrons successfully. Hence, you can invoke these feelings by being completely transparent with the sponsors. 

Before you ask them to contribute, be open about organizational goals while asking contributors about their objectives. This will make them feel more connected and increase your chances of receiving hefty donations. 

Similarly, after they have donated, make sure you send proof showcasing the impact of their gift for knowing one was able to help someone else, which is always a nice feeling. 

Donor-focused vs. donor-centric 

Most non-profit organizations utilize two primary approaches to conduct donation activities. These are:

  • Donor-Focused Approach: You can carry out the regular activities and maintain your sponsors' interests without involving them in the internal processes. It has no impact on the non-profits' decision-making power.  
  • Donor-Centric Approach: The patron is in the center of all activities and they get a say in your organization's internal processes. It focuses on their opinions, perspectives, and needs. 

Thus, these approaches help you gain insight into your patron opinions, with or without involving them in the activities. Combining these approaches will help enhance transparency and communication with the sponsors and make the retention and acquisition stages easier. 

Designing the digital donor experience 

Everything is going digital. So, crafting the best digital or non-digital donor experience will ensure a streamlined fundraising possibility. 

The perfect donor experience module involves various elements because today it is no longer a purely transactional involvement. Indeed, the process has become humanized, and sponsors want to create emotional connections with the non-profits. 

You can build better relationships with a new-age approach using the Donor Experience Design (DXD) that consists of the designing process, outlining and charting the patron engagements and activities, and interactions with your non-profit. 

Additionally, create a donor-centric experience while keeping the digital design donor-focused. To facilitate a better experience, you need to improve the digital presence of your non-profit. For that, you should follow these tips:

  • Create user-friendly and navigable interfaces in your website/mobile application to ensure engagement. 
  • Enhance trust by maximizing website security through adopting security firewalls and protocols.  
  • Invoke transparency by making the donation page design simple and easy to understand. 
  • Ensure consistency by keeping every web page similar to resonate the website design needs with the non-profit’s cause.  
  • Recognize every sponsor by thanking them for their contribution, either through email or as a list on your website 

Through these options, you will be able to make content visually appealing to invoke empathy in your website. To go one step further, you can also look at various fundraising software to enhance your donation streak. 

Importance of designing digital donor experiences 

If you want to ensure engagement, then designing and delivering an optimal digital donor experience is crucial for:

  • Better communication between you and the donor 
  • Analyzed sponsor data enables you to make better decisions 
  • Enhanced connection for the contributor with the initial cause 
  • Improved patron satisfaction that leads to better donations 
  • User-friendly digital platforms increase acquisition 

14 actionable ways to elevate online donor engagement (Do these to take your donors on a joyride) 

According to Donor Search, 88% of your non-profit funds come from 12% of your major contributors. This means that retaining them will eventually lead to more acquisition through good publicity.

So, make the sponsor's time worthwhile! 

The fundraising strategies you choose will affect the future of your organization. Although you will have no control over unprecedented obstacles that may arise, you can raise more money for all your non-profit endeavors by re-strategizing. 

1. Bring out the human element 

Creating an empathetic connection with your sponsors will increase retention and facilitate your acquisition. You must put a human touch to your website and social media campaigns. Additionally, you can even put a human face to your non-profit to effectively help people relate to the mission. 

All you have to do is connect the cause or mission to a humane story. To do that, you can use the following tips: 

  • Connect your message with every campaign or activity 
  • Tell the story behind the non-profit's existence 
  • Share testimonies or feedback about your organization 
  • Have a conversation with new and existing sponsors 
  • Share behind-the-scenes and success stories 

Treat your sponsors as part of your community instead of looking at them as prospects or donators. Consider the non-profits' passion or mission and incorporate that personality in everything you do. 

2. Keep the donors posted about the impact their donations 

Recognizing and thanking contributors can go a long way. However, the best way to foster a proper sponsor relationship is to enhance two-way communication. If you keep them posted about the impact of the donations, it will promote retention. 

At the same time, this detailed information will inspire the contributors and encourage them to give more significant donations. It could also help bring new donors through referrals. 

For example, if there is a new patron, you can email them within 90 days to let them know how they have helped. This will make them feel mission-driven and instill a sense of belonging to a cause bigger than themselves. 

3. Relevance increases engagement 

Empty messages without personalization will only repel your sponsors. 

Hence, whatever your non-profit stands for, everything that you do should be proportionate to the cause. The messages, timings, channels, and offers should all be relevant to the supporters and your main cause. 

Therefore, craft messages that resonate well with sponsors, and that spread the information on social channels well. 

4. Optimize the new donor onboarding experience 

You can gain a monthly sponsor without having to scour the prospect list every other month. 

A great way to harness this acquisition opportunity is optimizing the new contributor onboarding experience. Non-profits worldwide utilize thoughtful and empathic processes to welcome new sponsors to their organization. You can do the same by emphasizing a "Thank You" essence while showcasing the initial impact of their first gift. 

The onboarding process can have personalized emails or videos underlining how their ongoing donations will continue impacting society. Additionally, engaging the contributors through informative two-way conversations could also help retain them. 

Doing so will help you organize and analyze the donor journey and their initial motivation. You could even utilize their excitement towards your cause and create a personalized onboarding experience. 

To do that, you need to design the website with visual content, like videos or infographics, and create a concise copy of the non-profit’s vision or mission. Perhaps, you can reward the patrons for contributing or recognize them as new contributors to the community. 

5. Incorporate videos into your communication plan 

According to an M+R Benchmarks Report, the non-Profit video posts gained the highest average score for an engagement at 0.33%. At the same time, 57% of donors get inspired by non-profit video marketing and donate more. 

These statistics allude to the increase in popularity of videos in donor interaction. For example, you can use a video to show solidarity and appreciation for donors. 

This way, you can thank them and showcase the impacts their gifts have made. Videos also offer opportunities for nonprofits to stay connected and involved with the new donors. You can visually represent the cause and solidify the bond with new contributors. 

It is hence imperative to incorporate video messages on the donation confirmation page and to add mission-oriented and thankful videos in the welcome email series to gain better results. Lastly, you could even share real-time video updates with all your contributors. 

6. Invite new donors to become monthly supporters 

Monthly patrons give 7 times more than one-time contributors, making it important for non-profits to find ways to inspire new donors and retain them for the coming months. 

You can let them know their difference by highlighting the significant impact of recurring donations, or rewarding them with loyalty badges.

Gifts, recognition, and the feeling of helping others will excite the one-time contributors to contribute again. Thereafter you must invite them again within 45 to 90 days which is the ideal time to reach out to former patrons. 

7. Create a strategy to re-engage donors 

Did you know that if a supporter fails to give a second donation within six months, they are unlikely ever to donate again? The lapsed donor recapturing rate is decreasing and remains at 4%

It is crucial to re-engage these patrons to ensure a high retention rate. Doing so will help enhance donor loyalty and experience. For example, you can utilize particular social triggers like launching a unique email design to excite these supporters. Additionally, you can reach out to them through personalized messages that inspire them. 

Every acquired contributor is a valuable addition to your community. Therefore, you need to support them to ensure they stick around and keep donating. 

8. AI-powered donor experience 

Organizations in various industries have been leveraging AI to gain more prospects. This stands viable for non-profits too who can also utilize it to improve interaction and retain contributors. 

Various AI tools like campaign recommendation tools, donor readiness tools, etc., can help you enhance the essence of your non-profits. You can use this to streamline segmentation by improving the process drastically. 

Not only does it boost fundraising efficiency, but you can also witness effective results from it. For example, you can start by implementing a simple AI chatbot on your website to help prospects in their donor journey. 

It could enhance the digital experience while eliminating complicated technicalities. 

9. Utilize hybrid fundraisers as virtual fundraising becomes the new normal 

Some call hybrid fundraisers the next evolution in non-profit donation strategies, while others refer to it as an innovative way to raise funds. 

It allows you to cater to those who love physical fundraiser galas and those who would instead attend virtually from their couches. Additionally, these virtual events will enable you to connect with potential patrons located across the globe. 

With hybrid fundraisers, you could bring the best of both worlds. The event also enhances donor engagement by: 

  • Spreading your reach worldwide, even in remote locations
  • Reducing the expenses of event management and traveling
  • Allowing all sorts of interested contributors to connect with you

For this, all you have to do is have a proper presentation plan and good virtual meeting software. By leveraging technology such as Zoom or Google Meet, you can easily enhance your fundraising activities. 

A hybrid fundraiser not only shows that you care, but it is also great PR for your non-profit. For example, it can be a costume party, a hybrid concert, a walkathon, and so on. 

10. Support modern payment methods 

The pandemic has made contactless payment options the new normal. The digital payment sector witnessed a 16% year-on-year rise in its value during 2020. When your non-profit supports multiple payment methods, you demonstrate your openness to change. 

You can improve the existing payment methods on your website by including: 

  • Bank transfers 
  • Payment applications 
  • Cashless payments 
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Digital wallets 

You can also add QR codes and 'donate' buttons to streamline the process and enhance the user experience. These payment methods are convenient and easy to navigate. 

When the donors find it easy to pay for a cause, it will automatically improve interaction, engagement, and retention.  Your non-profit can tap into international donors through modern payment methods. 

Moreover, the most significant advantage of digital payments is that the patrons need not worry about their donations getting taxed. 

11. Your website matters a lot 

Around 73% of web designers believe that a non-responsive website will never attract customers. Similarly, 2021 witnessed 54.8% of the global website traffic from mobile phones. Indeed, 74% of website users will return if the user interface is mobile-friendly. 

It is, therefore, crucial to build an attractive website with a design that resonates with your purpose. 

To build a perfect website, you need to follow these tips: 

  • Create separate layouts for mobile and desktop 
  • Highlight your organization's vision 
  • Feature accessible contact forms and information 
  • Be authentic about the data you are putting out 
  • Rope in chatbots to offer contributors a real-time assistance 
  • Keep the website simple from a technical standpoint 
  • Utilize multimedia to keep your donors engaged 
  • Use all security protocols on your website 

Adhering to these points will help you create a user-friendly, attractive, and thought-provoking website. The donors will see your consistency and authenticity. It will help you acquire new contributors and retain your existing ones. 

You can visit to get visual clues about what a well-designed website looks like. Or, you could visit Vitamin Angels' website to understand user-friendliness and simplicity.  

12. Invest in the new supporters by rewarding loyalty 

Even with such digital advancements, one advertising technique that remains powerful is "word-of-the-mouth." Indeed, 92% of people will believe their close friends and family about reviews. 

If your organization has regular donors or new supporters, you should try something to make them feel special. In turn, they will talk about your non-profit with friends and family or post it on social media. 

Doing so will invoke the psychological benefits of acknowledgment, including powerful interactions and intimacy. The patron will feel like they have contributed to a cause and made a difference in this world. 

One way to engage with them personally is through loyalty rewards. All you have to do is create a particular corner on your website to acknowledge loyal donors. 

For example, you can harness the user data to gain more insight and create a value-driven membership model. You can also launch a newsletter curated for your long-term, regular and loyal donors. 

Your non-profit can present world-class perks to delight the contributors. You could give them badges or shareable material that they could use to encourage others to donate. Most importantly, you need to appreciate each patron and send them personalized appreciation messages. 

For example, the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast website provides multiple cues to keep their regular sponsors happy.

13. Gamification 

Gamification is set to have a CAGR growth of 27.4% by 2025. It is a strategic attempt to involve games to enhance donor engagement. It taps into the donor's emotions and develops lasting impressions. 

Adding elements of competition, peer-to-peer games, and other challenges helps you gain several benefits like: 

  • Inspiring healthy competition 
  • Increasing overall engagement 
  • Creating user-centric content 
  • And developing a community 

Filling out forms during donations can get boring, but you can revamp the experience by introducing games. 

For example, you can utilize fundraiser badges, countdown clocks, story sharing, and video uploading options to gain rewards. Some non-profit websites include lockable achievements, bonuses, and leaderboards to keep the sponsors hooked. 

14. Social media campaigning 

Indeed, around 37.9% of people take action after seeing a post on social media. This proves the effectiveness of advertisements and marketing on the internet. 

Non-profits can utilize social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to promote fundraising activities. Not only is it an excellent strategic move, but it also enhances engagement and reach. 

You could even set up online donations for various initiatives on social media. At the same time, you can easily organize promotional campaigns that attract better acquisition. 

For example, developing better content and including multimedia content on your posts will be interactive. Such fundraising initiatives will attract potential patrons while engaging the existing ones and promoting the non-profit activities. 

Elevate your fundraising capabilities in 2022 

The world is changing today as it goes digital, primarily because of the pandemic. Your old-school charm might get lost among these changes, but it is crucial to remember and retain it. 

Indeed, even a hand-written "Thank You Note" will do the trick. Yet, becoming modern with your non-profit organization will bring considerable benefits in the form of massive ROI. People earning less donate 16.6% of their earnings to non-profits, receiving 7.6% of their revenue online. 

Now that people already understand the need for funding, you can harness this and pivot your fundraising efforts. You can use techniques like revamping your website, rewarding loyal sponsors, organizing hybrid fundraisers, and supporting modern payments, to list a few.

All of these tactics will help boost your brand awareness while enhancing your reach and recognition. Indeed, your donors' donations will eventually make many differences in people's lives. It is your job to make a difference in their experience by making it fun for them. 

So, what’s the hold? Implement these strategies and boost your acquisition and retention count this year!

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