How to get repeat donors for your nonprofit

Repeat donations form a significant chunk of income for many charities, and donors who set up recurring gifts have been shown to give significantly more than people who give isolated, individual donations.¹

There is lots of data showing that people are generally less inclined to give regularly, and that most donors only give once to a charity.²

In the 2018 CAF report the majority of donors  only gave ‘from time to time’ and only a small proportion gave weekly.³ This shows just how beneficial it would be to charities if more people set up regular donations, as very few people currently do.

Marketing your organisation and cause and persuading people to donate is an important step for gaining the donors in the first place. It is easy to put less thought into the next step – the experience of donating – as once people are here they have already made the decision to donate. However, by making this experience the best it can be for customers, you can turn more one-time donors into a regular donors.

So, here is a list of ways to enhance your donation process to get people giving more habitually and to increase donor retention.

Make donations easy 

People don’t like to make decisions and naturally want any process to be as simple as possible.

This can be achieved by having an easy-to-navigate website, and by providing recommendations for decisions such as donation size or a default setting where donations are repeated regularly. 

Another way to make the process easier is to ensure that your webpages are optimised for mobiles. Donation pages which can be used from a mobile device result in 34% more submissions,4 simply because it means that people can donate quickly and easily from anywhere.

Give rewards to establish habits

If giving is rewarded and people feel good after donating, the donation is more likely to become a habit as people will return to experience this good feeling more often.

Even clicking the button to donate and simply knowing that they’ve helped a good cause will evoke a good feeling in a donor, but this can be intensified by providing extra rewards, such as personalised messages, videos, photos of people they’ve helped, or even merchandise such as t-shirts.

It is also important to thank people for their donation as this will make them feel valued and part of your community, giving them a more emotional connection with your organisation and motivating them to donate more.

Give people goals or sets to achieve

People like to collect things, and giving them a set of goals to achieve may prompt them to keep up with repeat donations in order to get the satisfying feeling and increased self-esteem that comes from ‘completing’ the set.5 

It has also been shown that people are more likely to donate more if they feel like they are helping a cause with a goal that can be immediately reached, rather than working towards something in the distant future.

Therefore, it may be useful to present donations as being instrumental in reaching a larger amount of smaller goals rather than a broader aim to which their donation might seem more insignificant.

Compare them to other donors (and themselves)

Showing donors what other people like them have given may increase the amount and frequency of donations, as people are more inclined to do something if they see that their peers are doing so.

As having an easy decision process, it may be effective to provide reference donation amounts so that people don’t have to decide a figure themselves.

A study has also shown that people may be more inclined to give more if they are reminded of their past generosity and previous donations – it made them see themselves as a more generous person and so they gave more generously.6

Help people stick to plans

Research has shown that people are more likely to stick to their commitments if they are announced to others who can hold them accountable. Suggesting that a donor shares their pledges on social media, for example, may help them to stick to them.6

Another way to make sure that people stick to plans is to send them reminders. Even people with the best intentions can be forgetful. This can be solved simply and easily by sending reminders in the form of emails, letters, or social media posts, depending on who you are contacting.

Provide excellent customer service

It is well known that good customer service breeds customers for life in any area of business.

No matter what the business, people will go back if they have a good customer experience, but this may be especially important in the third sector due to the fact that feeling good about themselves is a strong motivator for any donor.

A good overall experience is therefore vital in maintaining this good feeling, and customer service is a determining factor in the type of experience somebody has with an organisation.

Once again, having this good experience will make donors feel more valued and more connected to your organisation, and they will return to donate again as they are getting more personal gratification and satisfaction from the experience.

Share This
Skip to content