Increasing Donor Retention: How To Follow-Up After Donations


Research shows that up to 70% of donors don’t make a second donation largely due to a lack of outreach post-donation ( and This also results in a low donor retention rate.

“…without follow-up on the part of recipient agencies, [donating] doesn’t create a lasting, sustainable relationship necessary for growth.” – Richard Freedlund, Founder of Greater Good Fundraising

Giving Tuesday and the Giving Season can result in huge success for your nonprofit, with impressive stats like 12% of donations coming in the last 3 days of the year (Network for Good) and half of the nonprofits surveyed saying they receive the majority of their donations in the last 3 months of the year (GuideStar).

However, does this mean you put all of your effort into drawing in these donations? Or should you take time to follow-up with the donors and work to build a longer-lasting relationship with them?

The answer to this question may sound obvious, but you should ask yourself if you are following up in a way that really makes a difference in the eyes’ of your donors. Let’s take a look at how to improve your donor retention by treating your donors less like customers and more like friends.

Increasing Donor Retention: Five Ways To Follow-Up After Donations

1. Say Thank You. If your friend did you a favor, you wouldn’t hesitate to immediately say thank you and maybe even send a note. Take a look at the tips in “Follow-Up Ideas for Nonprofits” for ideas on saying a stand-out thank you to donors.

2. Call Them Up. If you were able to gather donors’ phone numbers, you are not limited to email, following up with spammy emails like a salesperson from Gap. You’re not a vendor, you are a friend: if the donor chose your nonprofit out of all the others out there, they likely have an affinity for your organization. A personal follow-up to ask them how the donation process went might feel like a friendly outreach and encourage them to continue this relationship down the road.

3. Extend an Invite. Since your donor / friend gave you a gift, consider giving one back. Sending a literal gift might be out of the question budget-wise, but hosting a thank you dinner or inviting them to a guided tour of your nonprofit’s offices is more doable. This invite could aide in changing the way they view your nonprofit: you’re not just an organization they gave money to online, but instead is a group of people with whom they had a positive experience.

4. Keep Them in the Loop. Lindsay J.K. Nichols from GuideStar put it best: “Nonprofits can use #GivingTuesday to signal to people that give wisely (as in they give with their heads as well as their hearts – the only way to go!) that your organization “gets it”… Make sure you talk about your outcomes, not just your outputs, when asking for donations – remember no stories without data, and no data without stories!”

This is also a good time to ask if they want to subscribe to your newsletter to stay updated. Similarly, you could start a member-only Facebook Group that they could join to check up on the latest events, campaigns and news, targeted around donors specifically.

5. Ask Them! In any or all of your outreach, ask your donors what would keep them involved. Would they consider volunteering? Would they want to automate their giving? Would they enjoy sponsoring one individual or giving to a bigger overall cause? Once you’ve gathered some answers, you can see if there’s a trend amongst donors and if there’s something you can change to keep them in your circle.

For more ideas on improving donor retention, take a look at Double the Donation or subscribe to our Newsletter today.