Having a constant income over time is crucial for your charity, as it allows you to plan ahead and cover the costs of running your activities. This means that keeping your existing donors is at least equally important as adding new ones.
Retaining your donors means keeping them engaged and inspired, so that they want to donate again. If the first donation has a lot to do with people’s emotions and urge to action, other factors come into play for the following ones. Everyone, from individual donors to volunteers, to major donors and institutional partners, want to be sure that their contributions will be used wisely and effectively. In short, they want to see the impact of their support. If you really want to keep your donor engaged and donations coming, you must keep them inspired and part of a community committed to change and transparency.
The good news is that as you are already committed to transparency, it is only a matter of conveying this effectively. In 2017, online tools and social media have made this task much easier than before. Here are some ideas to engage your supporters and retain them that are available to all organisations at (almost) no cost:
Share your impact, truly: once in a while, send out communications that aren’t about asking for more donations, but a celebration of your supporters’ contributions. Keep telling powerful stories, and substantiate them with facts, figures, projections. The more supporters understand how you work, the more they will trust you and would like to be involved.
Include a supporter feature in your newsletter. All charities send out printed or online newsletters, full of information on their organisation’s activities. So why not adding a “Supporters’ corner”, telling the story of a particularly keen volunteer or generous donor? People like feeling appreciated, being connected with a wider group of supporters, and having the chance to tell their stories.
Have special media content as a perk for your supporters. We all like to feel special, and we all like to see first-hand, behind-the-scene reports. A great incentive for donors and fundraisers could be to receive special content from the field, not publicly available, with project staff sharing stories and thanking the supporters for their contributions. All you need is a video camera and an internet connection.
Make them feel part of a movement - turn your supporters into activists. Retaining donors is great, but growing their number is pretty cool too. Sometimes the two things can be done at the same time - increasingly so, thanks to social media. One of the reasons why donors give is that they want to feel part of a group with a purpose, and contribute to a cause that is greater than them. This means that if you ask your supporters to do something to grow the community of donors, they will do it. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, it is just incredibly easy to organise online flash mobs with each supporter reaching out to 2 (3, 10, 100) of their friends and invite them to support your organisation. With activities like this, you will be empowering supporters, giving them the ability to be an advocate for your organisation, and will get new ones on board.
Your supporters are the people that you have inspired to take action to help your organisation. A good mixture of transparency on your work and impact, involving them in some of your activities and showing real gratitude, can foster your relationship until they are not only long term supporters, but also ambassadors for your charity.
Transparency is KindLink’s founding principle. Bringing more transparency into the charity sector is the reason why we are building the first social network for donors and charities where donors have the ability to follow the impact of their donations, and charities can showcase their activities. We are helping more and more charities embrace digital technology and transparency, bringing back the public’s trust in the charity sector and ensuring that even small charities have the tools they need to run effectively. Join us today.