Donor Retention Strategies from a Frozen Bird

Nichiren Daishonin (a 13th century Japanese Buddhist monk) once shared the following story with a disciple:

“Deep in the Snow Mountains lives a bird called Kankucho which, tortured by the numbing cold, cries that it will build a nest in the morning.

Yet, when the day breaks, it sleeps away the hours in the warm light of the morning sun without building its nest. So it continues to cry vainly throughout its life.

The same is true of people.”

Some nonprofits are like the Kankucho bird. They spend their days worry about raising money now, but spend very little time cultivating and retaining donors for the future.

4 Donor Retention Strategies for Every Nonprofit

Allyson Kapin, who co-wrote Social Change Anytime Everywhere with Amy Sample Ward share four strategies to increase donor retention:

  1. Personalize your communications – You need to understand what makes your donors tick. Conduct surveys and study actions they’ve already taken with your organization.
  2. Segment your lists – Segmentation enables you to create messages that are specific and relevant to each person, which means more engagement and conversions!
  3. Always thank your donors – Go beyond the auto-responder “thank you” message sent when someone makes a donation. Thank them in a way that’s sincere, authentic and unique.
  4. Move donors up the ladder – A smart donor CRM will enable you to segment donors based on their actions, and queue them up for the next level. For example, someone who’s donated more than four times could be upgraded to a monthly donor.

The key with all of this is to start now.

How are you nurturing long-term relationships?

John Haydon