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Research on How to Turn Donors into Repeat Givers

Survey data that illuminates what motivates nonprofit donors to give again.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how donor retention is the biggest problem facing the modern nonprofit, with 73% of those first-time donors you work so hard to get not giving a second time. For many nonprofits, the retention rate is even lower.

Janna Finch, a nonprofit analyst and managing editor at Software Advice, recently surveyed 2,833 nonprofit donors to explore what motivates them to keep giving. Here's what she found:

  • 60% of donors want impact stories to prove how their first donation made a difference

  • 46% of donors prefer to be contacted with personalized letters

  • 35% prefer you wait seven months before asking for another donation

Janna told me, "It seems that demonstrating your mission’s success through impact stories and direct mail significantly encourage donors to give again." (You can follow Janna on Twitter @AbleAltruist.)

Here's a slideshare with the data; I found slide 3 particularly useful for thinking about nonprofit communications:

Thanks to Chantelle for sharing this research with me!

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How many people over 50 are really on Facebook?

Are enough current donors on Facebook to make investment worth it?

How many people over 50 are really on Facebook?

The real issue: running a nonprofit means a lot of decisions about what’s really worth your precious time. If social media is mostly a young-person thing, and everybody knows young people are not a good source of nonprofit revenue, why should that time be spent trying to attract people with money who aren’t there?

The answer: 60% of people age 50-64 are on Facebook, and 43% of people 65 and over are on Facebook. Source: May 2013 Pew report.

That's definitely enough to justify your attention.

It started when the new grandma got on Facebook to see pictures of her newborn granddaughter. Then she realized half her high school class was on Facebook, and reconnected with dozens of friends she hadn’t talked to in years. Then she told the REST of her friends, who started getting on Facebook too.

Many of them use it at least as actively as their kids, and some of them use it more actively than their grandkids. I recently saw a community on Facebook that had attracted 30,000 senior citizens.

Many of those people will still open a snail mail letter—but with the tiny fraction of them who will actually donate as a result, you’re at least as likely to get them to donate using methods that allow them to get involved right then and there, while you’re fresh in their minds. And you’re more likely to keep them.

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