Donor retention is crucial, especially because it is more expensive to seek out and entice new donors, as compared to keeping old ones. When a donor stops returning phone calls and attending events, or stops giving altogether, it can be worrying. Your donor may have ghosted you — ghosting is when a person suddenly cuts ties without explanation. Although normally used in the dating sense, ghosting can, and does, happen between donors and the nonprofits they support. There can be plenty of reasons as to why a donor ghosts, but before you spook yourself, know that there are several ways to deal with this and prevent it from happening again.
What to Do When a Donor Ghosts You
If your donors start ghosting you, and you don’t act quickly, it might spell trouble for your organization in the long run. Donor retention entails proactiveness. There must be an active attempt to retain donors and build their loyalty.
1. Focus on building and mending the relationship
Understand that donor retention is more than just business; it’s also about relationship management. This means ensuring that your interaction with the donor goes beyond transactional. No need to resort to cheap tricks here — you just need to ensure that you build a trusting and genuine relationship.
You must remember that the donors you interact with are more than just wallets; they are people who care. These people also have their own sensitivities that you must be aware of. Make every interaction count towards building a healthy relationship with your donor.
2. Treat them by getting to know them
Before you resort to any tricks (or casting magic spells), ensure that you truly know who your donors are. Understand why they first decided to support your cause. Do they have a direct link to your cause or share the same passions for change? Then promote your advocacies. Did they appreciate your team from the get-go? Then prove to them that your team is working as hard as ever. It is best to tailor-fit your approach to each donor, so make an effort to get to know them first. Once you know them, you can begin segmenting similar donors in marketing channels, allowing for more targeted and personalized messaging. This will help to better engage your donors — almost as well as if you did cast a love spell on them.
How to Encourage Ghosting Donors to Magically Appear
1. Remind your donors of the many ways to give
According to Bloomerang, the most common reason for why donors stop giving is because they can no longer afford to give. In this case, it is important to remind your donors of the non-monetary ways that they can support your cause, while also thanking them for giving when they could. Donors should know that all support, no matter the form, is greatly appreciated and valued. For instance, encourage donors to volunteer at events or be social media advocates. By asking your donors to support you in various ways, you are fostering a more diverse and dynamic relationship with your donors. When they are in a position to donate money, your organization will be top of mind.
2. Get personal by sharing impact stories
It is important for donors to see that their donations matter, and that your organization is accountable for achieving its objectives. Make sure to keep them up to date. In your e-newsletters and mailers, focus on sharing stories that inspire and demonstrate the true value of their donations, instead of referencing vague numbers and statistics.
Allow them to feel the impact of their work in a more human way. Pick out narratives and testimonies from your beneficiaries. Surface anecdotes and success stories from your communities. Through this, you can remind your donor that they are doing important work with you.
3. Show them they are needed
5% of donors leave an organization when they feel that they are not needed. So, when you start to get the heebie-jeebies because you sense a donor ghosting, remind them that they are crucial to your organization’s success. You can do this by highlighting the contributions they have provided in the past, what these have amounted to, and what your organization will miss without them.
How to Prevent Donors from Ghosting
1. Maintain communication
It’s important to maintain active communication with your donors. Send timely acknowledgments and expressions of gratitude each time they donate. Meet with them regularly, whether online or in person, and ensure that they receive personal invitations to your events. By actively engaging with your donors, you are creating a strong bond, which will be tricky to break.
2. Optimize and monitor donor analytics
In order to prevent donors from ghosting, it is important to collect and monitor as much data as you can. By monitoring their giving patterns, you can be aware of the first signs of lapsing. Did their annual giving decrease? Have they skip a monthly donation? The sooner you recognize these giving changes, the quicker you can act to re-engage them. An advanced data analytics tool like Donor Compass can help you identify these changes, so that you can focus more on relationship building, and less on worrying about who might vanish next.
3. Create consistency through branding
At the end of the day, you need to sustain a good image so that your donors are compelled to support you. Maintain good branding by understanding your values, voice, and motivation—and the values of your donors. Translate these into all your communication and marketing materials. Your branding and messaging should be consistent on all of your social media platforms, so that donors have a clear understanding of who you are and what you do.
Preventing donors from ghosting boils down to maintaining a strong relationship with your donors. You don’t need to cast a spell to keep them compelled; instead, treat your donors to a genuine partnership. Through sustained communication, regular updates, and consistent branding, you can forge lasting relationships with your donors.
Learn more about how Donor Compass™ can help you strengthen your relationship with your donors here.