Posted by Jay Wilkinson

In 2014, the median donor retention rate for nonprofits hovered around 43%, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. That’s up from previous years, but still—this means nearly six out of ten donors never give again. If you think that sounds low, you won’t like to hear that it’s only around 23% for new donor retention rates.

While the trend shows that retention rates are slightly improving, almost all nonprofits could benefit from making donor retention a higher priority, especially with new donors. If your nonprofit can boost your donor retention rate by just 10% this year, you’ll increase the lifetime value of your database by 150–200%, according to Bloomerang Chief Scientist Dr. Adrian Sergeant.

The good news is this doesn’t have to be a complicated and expensive process. Sometimes a little effort can make a big difference. Try these five easy steps that go beyond an automated thank-you email to keep your new donors coming back for more.

  1. Handwrite a personal note. Let’s not kid ourselves—new donors know what an automated thank-you looks like. Go above and beyond with something more personalized. Handwritten thank-yous don’t take much time, but they say “you matter” better than an automated form.
  2. Call and thank them. If a hand-written note is considered personal, imagine what a phone call could mean. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation; just a quick “welcome and thank you for your gift” could suffice. If you divvy up phone calls among your employees and possibly board members, you could reach out and touch several new donors in one week.
  3. Invite them for a tour of your facility. It’s the perfect way to make new donors feel like part of the team. One of the reasons people give is to become part of something bigger than themselves—to join forces with a like-minded group. Make new donors feel included by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at your nonprofit.
  4. Invite them to volunteer. This is a win/win. You get a new volunteer, and he or she gets to see how your organization operates up close. This is a terrific way to build relationships with new constituents.
  5. Create a video showing donors what their gifts are accomplishing. You can write about this in a newsletter, but wouldn’t it be great to create a visual story as well? It doesn’t have to be long or professionally done—just clear, concise and heartfelt. Post the video on your website, share it via social media and email your supporters a link saying, “Here’s how your generous gift is making a difference.”