The 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report was released last week [January 2014] and one of the more interesting findings was that donor retention remains a lower priority.
As my colleague Frank Barry mentioned, most nonprofits stink at donor retention. Nearly 3 out of 4 new donors never make a second gift. Over the past 10 years, donor retention has fallen from 33% to 27%.
But…donor retention isn’t one of the top three communications goals for 2014, according to the report. Acquiring new donors, engaging our community and general brand awareness all rank ahead of retention.
And while only 34% of executive directors picked donor retention as a top 2014 goal, just 16% of nonprofit communications directors said the same.
Donor retention is often overlooked and, because of this, nonprofits aren’t using email as a key retention tool. That likely means more email “asks” this year (donations, event registrants, advocacy actions) and fewer retention emails, like reporting back to donors and building relationships.
The risk this poses is if most emails ask for something, people may start tuning out everything. To make “ask” emails more effective, constituents need to also see results consistently from your organization. They need know that progress is being made and feel the momentum.
Email can play a key role in this, but the focus on donor retention must be better. To help, here are:
9 Underutilized Emails to Improve Donor Retention
Report back on someone’s donation
One of the most underutilized, but most effective donor retention emails. It’s simply reporting back on the impact of someone’s gift, like The Wilderness Society and Charity Water do below:
Revisit past major initiatives
December often brings emails about this year’s accomplishments. Go back further. Revisit progress on major past initiatives, like these examples:
Celebrate your mission’s accomplishments
Not only did Easter Seals share that a teenager with Down syndrome climbed Mount Everest, they took it a step further by asking people to sign a congratulatory ecard.
When’s the last time you shared a story via email that didn’t ask for money?
New video to share
Videos show your impact, stir emotions and are memorable. Don’t assume everyone will see it on Facebook – share it like Communities in Schools did:
Upcoming media coverage
Let people know you’re being featured somewhere (TV, radio, magazine, etc.). It conveys the progress you’re making is newsworthy.
Close the loop on urgent asks
If you’ve presented an urgent problem – perhaps in December – close the loop by providing results. Credit supporters for what they’ve made possible.
It reinforces the value of being on your email list. And if you wait to say it in your quarterly newsletter, it may be old news.
Related news of the day
When Jason Collins came out as the first gay active NBA player, HRC helped spread the word to their email list. Do the same with major news that impacts your mission.
There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to giving. If someone doesn’t feel their donation is making an impact, they may go elsewhere.
By Mike Snusz on Jan 16, 2014