Donor Engagement In Online Fundraising

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

It can be frustrating to not understand why donors only give once. Was the donor turned off about your mission? Was any engagement with the donor after the donation? Could it be a mixture of things that may be out of your control?

Keeping donors beyond the first donation can be difficult; however, applying effort in the right ways can help those donors longer. According to Adrian Sargeant, one of the leading experts on donor retention, even a 10% improvement in donor attrition can help increase the value of donor giving by 200% long term. Understanding some of the factors that cause donors to give once can also help pinpoint areas where improvements to donor engagement can be made.

Donor drop-off factors

Donors have many reasons for donating once. Joanne Fritz, a writer for The Balance, points out that author and ethicist Peter Singer describes roadblocks that one-time donors run into for continuing donations:

  • The victim or person in need for your cause isn't known. The story of an identifiable person is more relatable for donors.
  • Donors are more interested in causes that are near them.
  • Donor belief that their donation won't help enough or won't make a difference.
  • Donors think that someone else will donate to the cause.
  • Something might seem unfair regarding how the donations will be used or the process.
  • Thinking about or donating money makes donors uneasy.

Retain Your Donors

With the reasons for donor one-time gifts in mind there are ways to keep donors with your cause for the long-term. Make sure you're telling compelling stories with your content. This goes for your online donation contest, website, or social media, involving those who are directly affected by your cause.

If your mission is to assist others in another region be sure to relate to similarities between your local region and those in the area where your cause will help. This will bring understanding to the work you plan to do.

Develop a "group" mentality when it comes to how your cause works with donors, volunteers, and your employees. Donation usage within your cause must be clear and where that money goes must be transparent. Offer other means of assisting your cause besides money including volunteering or offering to be an ambassador.

Communication with your donors is the best means of keeping donors long-term. Staying in contact with donors goes along with building trust through customer service. Fritz, author of the article "How To Get First Time Donors to Give Again" for The Balance, lays out a game plan for keeping donors in the loop with your cause. Build a relationship with donors after the first donation and don't forget to thank them for any gift. Reaching out via newsletter or personal email every month about what their gift has accomplished and any plans your cause has for future donations. This helps to build the possibility of a future donation. Thank and keep regular monthly donors up to speed on your efforts also assists in keeping people engaged with your mission.


6 Unexpected Ways Your Fundraising Appeal May Turn Off Donors - Joanne Fritz, Jan 15, 2018

How To Get First Time Donors To Give Again - Joanne Fritz, March 14, 2018


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