Crafting a Recipe for Donor Retention

Posted on 11/18/2018

What is the secret ingredient for retaining donors from one year to the next?

Does it lie in the timing of your appeals: when you solicit them again after their previous gift? Could it depend on the messages you convey: how well you describe the impact of their support or how clever your solicitations appear? Or maybe it hangs on the experiences your donors have following their donation: did they received a proper gift acknowledgment or were they offered opportunities to engage through events or volunteering?

The reality is that there’s more than one ingredient in a good retention strategy. It’s a combination—and a balance—of all of these things that ultimately leaves a good taste in your donors’ mouths and makes them hungry to give more.

Understanding how good stewardship can have a positive impact on donor retention, Boston College shared a little something extra with their donors just before Thanksgiving: the university’s holiday cookbook. This special online publication contains recipes (all named after iconic features of the university and its campus) for such seasonable dishes as Eagle Pride Pork Loin, Burns Bread Pudding, and Chestnut Hill Cranberry Kumquat Relish.

According to Amy Ferguson, Boston College’s Director of Leadership Donor Engagement, the team uses a variety of creative events and communications throughout the year to show donors how they are a critical part of the school community. Ongoing stewardship touches, like the holiday cookbook, help cultivate donors who feel connected on a personal level—and are more likely to renew their annual support as a result.

It’s important to remind donors that they’re special outside of the times when they’re being solicited. Let them know that they’re appreciated, especially during the holiday season. And don’t be afraid to give a little something back. When the time comes for them to decide whether or not to renew their support, your extra little gestures might just be the icing on the cake.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Donor Retention in the Modern Age.