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thank you donorsHow does your retention marketing strategy play into your overall marketing budget for the year? More importantly, does your organization have a donor retention budget?

For those organizations that do have a budget (those that don’t should seriously consider adopting one!), it can often be a struggle to determine the exact dollar figure that should be allocated. NewNorth, a digital marketing firm focused on consumer retention, believes that at least fifteen percent of an organization’s marketing budget should be dedicated to customer retention.

Why? Because attracting new donors can cost your organization approximately five times more than keeping an existing donor.

Let’s break down some numbers.

wowLike many others, I love an organization that thinks outside the box. In our last blog we talked about finding your unique voice and standing out in the crowd. Today I’d like to share some examples of WOW experiences that are likely to have donors wanting to stick around.

Welcome Package
There’s no better way to introduce a donor to your organization and it’s solid strength than by sending them an immediate greeting and welcome package upon the first donation. Think of this like a “Welcome to the Family” speech at a wedding, but with less chuckles and tears. This should set the tone for the new relationship that has been created and will educate your audience even further on all of the good that your NPO is up too. The package will likely include photos, recent updates and a personalized message, explaining the use of their donation. It should be infused with the personality and brand of your organization so that a donor doesn’t forget who they donated too.

personalization1One aspect that is altogether too forgotten in the non-profit world is how to stand out in the crowd. However, as more and more organizations vie for the same donor dollars, this will become a trait of the utmost importance in order to get and retain donations.

We read last week that there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. What this says to me is that there are a lot of people doing good, and now each organization must find their unique place within this community.

So what is it that makes your organization unique?

cashlinqblogDonor retention is truly the ultimate goal of every non-profit organization. Once we receive a one-time donation, the whole machine starts working to try to keep that donor on board. And from both ends it can make things more efficient, as we have read in previous blogs here about personal philanthropy. If a donor stays with one organization for a number of years, it can make the most amount of impact. Donors and non-profit organizations should want to stay together once they match up.

So where are the struggles with this task?

making a donation which nonprofit to chooseNow we’ve spent three weeks discussing donor engagement and how it is less about being transaction focused and more about being a true two-way flow of communication.

Still, we do understand the ultimate importance of turning that engagement into donations long-term.

In Penelope Burk’s blog, she poignantly describes the three elements of donor engagement that create donations:

“What donors have found to be consistently influential is this: they want to be thanked promptly and meaningfully for their gifts; they want to see their gifts designated or assigned to a specific project, program or initiative, and they want a report, in measurable terms, on what has been accomplished in that program before they are asked to give again. If donors get those three things every time they give, they will give again in numbers far greater than what fundraising experiences today and they will give more generously.”

dos and dontsWhen thinking about technology and donor engagement, we know that having two things are critical:

  1. Having two-way communication, and
  2. Ensuring that a donor can get in touch with the nonprofit at all times and via multiple platforms.

The first step to drive donor engagement is to make it easy for donors.

Do you have an easy and clear to see donate button on your website? Are you sure that all of your web forms work properly? Can someone donate from his or her mobile device? It’s amazing how simple these elements are, and how vital they are to the organization, yet how many times they go overlooked. If a donor emails or comments from your form, do you have a follow through process to ensure all donors are responded to in a timely manner?

heartLast week we talked about how having true heart in your organization’s two-way donor engagement plan is the true driver of a donor’s experience.

So today let’s dive deeper.

Going back to the customer engagement video that we showed last week about Lauree from Disney, you can just feel her passion shining through. She truly had a desire to make her clients feel like family. This light shone through her and was apparent in every interaction she had with people staying at the resort. She greeted everyone with a hug. She left them with a reminder package that made them feel special and reminded them of her.

So how can we re-create that type of culture in our everyday interactions?

donorsDonor engagement is a pretty common term in our industry today (thankfully, since it wasn’t twenty years ago!) Now you might hear it called donor stewardship or donor cultivation, but either way you name it, it’s about how involved donors are within your organization, how they are being communicated with, and how their interests are being taken care of.

Although the term is common, I’m not sure how much organizations are emphasizing it throughout the industry. And there’s no judgment here, as we live in a busy, crazy world. However, donor engagement is truly the key to success in the growing world of philanthropy. This statistic from the 2014 Donor Experience Study by GuideStar surprised me:

Nearly 95 percent of community foundations included in the research identifies donor engagement as a top priority, but only 27 percent of the strategic plans reviewed demonstrate that a foundation has adopted a well-defined metric to measure success.

community managementIt’s incredible to think about how many different ways of communication and engagement there are today. From Facebook, to e-mail, Skype, Twitter, text messages, Tumblr, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, the options seem endless.

For non-profit organizations aiming to raise awareness and/or funds for their cause, a combination of traditional and modern communications technologies can give you an incredible advantage as there is the ability to easily share your organization’s message with donors.

But as so many other aspects of life in today’s world, there is the tendency to quickly adopt these impressive technological developments without truly considering the pros and cons of each mode of communication. Today, too many non-profits are trying to reach all their donors through every possible channel of communication. As a result of this constant contact, NGOs risk being completely ignored by frustrated donors.

traveller old maps wide“The donor journey is a fabulous piece of thinking as it helps charities to see all of their programmes mapped out; how each programme can draw prospects from other programmes, offering donors new propositions, products and gift levels.” – Tony Elischer

Mapping the donor journey is a great organizational process to help your non-profit better understand its donors and improve its processes. That being said, when mapping the donor journey the goal is not to just string events together, but also to think critically about your donor engagement. How you map the donor experience will determine how your donors will engage with your organization from the first moment of contact to regular routine activities like monthly newsletters.

Here are four critical questions that you can use when it comes time to map your donor journey:

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