8 very simple yet effective tips for donor retention

Dr Saumya Arora About Dr Saumya Arora

Dr. Saumya Arora is a development professional with cross-disciplinary experience in project management, resource mobilization, donor relationship management, community mobilization and project execution at the field level. She is currently working towards building fundraising and resource mobilization capacity of community-based organizations, apart from developing functional linkages with donors across the world.

NGOs are now focusing on donor acquisition strategies, along with resource mobilization and fundraising strategies. But research tells us that the donor retention rates are poor in most cases, at a mere 25%. This means that out of 4 new donors acquired; only 1 continues to be associated with the cause for the next year.

This means that most of the efforts and resources spent for raising resources and acquiring donors go in vain! A high donor retention rate means less resources spent, and more received. So, NGOs need to work on donor acquisition and retention strategies too. Here are some simple but very effective tips for NGO to achieve good retention rates.

8 very simple yet effective tips for donor retention

  1. Know your donors:

Knowing the donors and their intent towards investing in social causes is the first step for true engagement. Some donors might want to engage themselves, my means of volunteers, and participation in the various events of the NGO; while others might be okay with timely reports received from NGOs sans any ‘hands-on’ experiences. So, understanding a donor first will be instrumental for devising engagement strategy.

  1. Real engagement: develop strategy and systems:

Many donors want a real engagement with the NGO, and even with the beneficiaries. It is important to vision a long-term engagement with the donor to make the best out of the relationship. Thus a donation must not be viewed as just one-time transaction, but as a step towards more meaningful relationship. This will guide the NGO to make it inherent in the strategy and develop systems accordingly.

  1. Do it better than others:

No doubt, your NGO and staff are committed and highly motivated to work towards a social cause. But demonstrating your professionalism and ability to make yourself stand out is the key to get noticed by the donors. For example, in case of corporate donors, know which partners are associated with the donor, what they do, and how they are doing it. Display that you are better at your work than your ‘competitors’.

  1. Have a clear communications strategy:

NGOs need to understand the need of more and meaningful communication with the donors. One tip here is to develop a ‘communication calendar’, similar to your project activity calendar or a Gantt chart. Share this calendar with your donors too, and stick to it!

  1. Thank your donors:

Believe in your heart that donors are very, very important. So, you need to acknowledge their contribution and send ‘thank you’s, along with other communications as per your calendar.

  1. Speak a language understandable to the donor:

Understand that your jargons might impress the donor once, but use of jargons and heavy terms in routine communication will make the donor just glance through your communication material, or maybe not even that! Use a language that is understandable for the donors, to make them feel a part of the ‘family’. Send them the information they want to hear, not what you want to share. 

  1. Share stories:

The donors are overwhelmed when they get to know what change their contribution is bringing about. Remember that most donations come from the ‘heart’, that is the donor’s desire to do good. Share stories, case studies, success stories to delight, encourage, and engage the donor.

  1. Ask for feedback:

The best way to find out areas of improvement is to ask for feedback. Ask your donors what they like, what they don’t, and how they would like you to improve. Obviously, taking feedback very seriously and acting on it is imperative thereafter.


  1. Civil rights and civil liberties and humanitarian Reza of Iran in the Middle East for the advance of goals I’m requesting funds. Thanks

    • Avatar Ritu Saini says

      Hi reza,
      Fundsforngos is not a funding organization and we do not provide grants. We are a social enterprise that provides fundraising guides, resources, and the latest funding opportunities to help you fundraise better and secure grant funding.

      Thank you!