By Christy Smaglio, Instructional Writer at Donor Perfect – a top-rated donor management system and fundraising platform for nonprofits.

Donor retention is a crucial aspect of a productive fundraising strategy. Keeping donors can undoubtedly be hard work but, a loyal donor base is vital in sustaining the work you do and furthering your mission. While a good deal of time and resources will be dedicated to this effort, certain aspects of donor retention can be made easy. Here are seven excellent methods of increasing donor retention and how to automate them.

1) Keep the Conversation with Donors Going

First impressions are essential. Chances are, you’ve already made a good one with your donor because they’ve made their first gift to your organization. Don’t let it stop there. Frequent communication is vital in cultivating donor relationships, especially with new supporters. What’s the easiest way to ensure that no new donor is lost in the mix? Set up a drip email to do the work for you.

To use a drip-email campaign, determine what your end goal is, or your call to action.


  • Make a second gift
  • Sign up to volunteer
  • Become a monthly donor

Whatever you want your donors to do, make sure you have this goal in mind when crafting your email series. This will keep your emails concise and focused.

Using DonorPerfect’s partnership with Constant Contact can make drip campaigns easy and effective. In DonorPerfect, you can build a filter that identifies all donors who should be part of the email campaign. For example, create a filter that includes all donors who have made a first-time gift. In Constant Contact, you can build your email series and apply DonorPerfect’s filter so only those donors will receive the emails. You can also set up a timeline in Constant Contact to determine when each email in the series gets sent. Best of all, this series can continue for as long as you wish with a dynamic list. Each night, any new donors you’ve acquired will get filtered into Constant Contact and added to the campaign drip. For more information and ideas, check out How to Create a Welcome Series for New Donors.

2) Have Current Donor Information Sent to Your Inbox

Use scheduled reports to make sure you have the most relevant and up to date information sent to your inbox: monthly, weekly, daily, etc. What would benefit you most to know about your constituent base?

  • List of first-time donors in the week
  • List of major gifts given today
  • List of donors who haven’t given a gift in the past six months
  • List of reactivated donors

When you only run these reports monthly, quarterly, or even yearly, the information is a bit stale, and it can be overwhelming to do much with your list of donors . However, if you receive a small list daily or weekly and set aside 10 to 15 minutes each day or week, you can take small effective measures to retain these donors. Maybe it’s a phone call or a personalized email, but taking these few moments can make a difference to your donors.

With DonorPerfect’s Easy Reports, you can build a custom report, showing just the critical donor retention information, and then schedule it to land in your inbox as frequently as you choose. The reporting is done for you so you can get to work in building a meaningful relationship with your donors.

3) Make Giving Easier For Donors than a Gym Membership

Your local gym knows how to retain its members, even the members that don’t go regularly. They make it easy by using automatic billing. Your donors can benefit from the same thing by setting up a monthly gift. They’ll have all the advantages without the guilt that comes with an unused gym membership.

DonorPerfect’s Automatic Monthly Giving feature makes it easy to process your donor’s requested gift amount at any interval (weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) whatever is convenient for your donor. Best of all, you don’t have to do any data entry either. DonorPerfect processes the credit card or bank account information, transfers the funds to your bank account, and creates the gift record in DonorPerfect.

You can set up a monthly gift for your donors, or allow them to sign up themselves by using an online giving form. For more information on monthly giving, check out 7 Best Practices for Automatic Monthly Giving. DonorPerfect users have seen incredible success with monthly giving, increasing the average donor retention rate from 40% to 80%.

Pro Tip: Ready to get started? Check out DonorPerfect’s monthly giving fundraising templates to grow your monthly giving program.

4) Keep Your Donor Records Up to Date

Make sure the credit card information you have on file for your monthly supporters is up to date. Credit cards expire, and following up with donors to ask for new card information can be time-consuming. Fortunately, there are services now available that automate this task for you.

DonorPerfect offers Account Updater. This feature will run nightly, looking for credit cards due to expire and updating them with the new card number. This will ensure that your donor’s monthly gift continues to process on time. DonorPerfect customers that use account updater have a 96% process success rate and have increased monthly giving by as much as 31%!

5) Reduce How Many Clicks it Takes to Donate

Forms with the highest conversion rates are the simplest forms with the fewest clicks required for your donors to contribute. The more fields a donor has to fill out and the more clicks required, the less likely they are to complete the form and make a donation. So make this an easy job for your supporters by sending them a form that is already filled out.

DonorPerfect offers a feature called SmartGive. This feature auto-generates a unique URL for each donor to take them to your online donation form. The unique URL will automatically fill out the name and address fields with the information you have on file. All that’s left for your donor to do is select the amount they would like to donate and enter their payment information. Combine SmartGive with a simple one page online form to create a quick and easy donation form that will keep your donors coming back.

6) Retain Donors With Consistent Branding

Your donors are paying attention to your brand. Not only is a strong brand a great way to attract new donors, but it’s also essential in keeping your donors too. This means your emails, webpage, online donation forms, printed material, etc. should all have consistency in logos, colors, typography, and messaging. This requires a good deal of thoughtful consideration when creating materials that will be presented to your public.

Nowhere is branding more critical than on an online form where donors will be making a donation and providing you with their private financial information making trust in your brand paramount. Make sure you brand your online donation forms to help with your form conversion rate and donor retention.

DonorPerfect Online Forms makes this an easy task. After you spend time creating one branded form, you can simply copy and edit it for all future pages. All images, colors, texts, etc. will be carried over to the new form. Alternatively, you can create a new form from scratch and format just one page header of your form. Once you complete the first page header, you can copy it to all additional pages that make up your donation form.

7) Improve Donor Retention by Thanking Donors Faster

Don’t forget the most important thing you can do to retain your donors: thank them! Donors that are thanked for their gift within 24 hours have a 60% retention rate. By far, this is one of the most influential pieces of communication you can use to keep your donors coming back. In addition to thanking your donors promptly, it can also be highly effective to personalize your communication. Make sure their name is included instead of a general salutation like “friend” and specify their gift and what they donated towards. If you have the time, you can even add a personal note.

Personalized thank you’s sound incredibly time-consuming, but there are tools to make this essential task manageable for your team. DonorPerfect’s receipting tool makes it easy to merge personalized donor information into pre-configured thank you email and letter templates. You can even get alerts reminding you that there are gifts waiting to be thanked so you can get your receipts out the door quickly.

DonorPerfect’s newest feature, thank a donor, makes it simple to thank a donor immediately upon entering the gift into the database. Before even clicking save on the gift record, you can click thank a donor to send either a letter or email right from the gift screen. Best of all, you can add a personal note to an email before sending it off to your donor.

For more ideas on how to maintain a healthy and lasting relationship with your donors, check out our recent blog post So, What’s Your Donor Relationship Status, as well as our E-Book, Your Donor Retention Toolkit. What foolproof methods do you use to get your donors to stick around? Share in the comments below.

#GivingTuesday is December 1, 2020! It’s time to start preparing. To make your Giving Tuesday campaign garner maximum ROI, visit the Giving Tuesday Hub.