If you work with people, in any capacity, then you are in the business of retaining customers. In the non-profit world, we know this translates to the most important piece of the pie: retaining donors.

Here are five effective strategies that come from the corporate world, that can help your organization improve your customer/donor retention and allow for greater organizational growth.

1. Customer Service

While I would hope this point is painfully obvious I do not want to leave any stone unturned.

Are your donors being well served? Can you tell if they are visibly satisfied? A great example of the extreme pull of customer service is in the coffee industry. There is a reason why so many North Americans go to (the pricier) Starbucks every morning – it’s for their joyful customer service. These individuals are willing to pay extra to receive their coffee with a smile.

Customer service, though a big hill to climb operationally, is worth every step. Without a commitment to serving your customers properly, no enterprise can succeed. The same goes for the non-profit world. Donors that feel affected by great donor service are sure to keep coming back. 

2. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a tool that corporations use to combine customer information with customer action to generate automated marketing and/or communications to your consumers.

This is a great tool for customer (and donor) retention because you can better react to the engagement or purchasing habits of customers. For example, with automated marketing you can send a personalized email to every donor after each donation. Marketing automation helps you keep donor engaged with timely, relevant and personalized communications.

3. Retain Customers with Content

Plain and simple; content adds value to consumer engagement.

Strong content marketing paired with inbound marketing creates content that educates, engages, and interests customers about your company’s products, services, and culture. The right content within consumer interactions can build brand affinity and consumer loyalty. Though it is a small value extension, it has huge payoffs, especially in the non-profit world where donors want to be more included than ever before. 

4. Gratitude

In my personal opinion, this point may just be the most important point of all. Showing gratitude to your customers or donors, in any industry, at any time, is a good practice. Studies show that the number one reason nonprofits lose donors is due to donors feeling unappreciated. The rule of gratitude for donors is to thank them, thank them and then thank them again!

5. Personalization

Organizations often underestimate the power of personalization. Nothing is more valuable than your donor feeling valued, and the most effective way to make them feel that is by personalizing your marketing and communication for each individual.

If you can make sure you have a personal (person-to-person) connection, you’re on the right path. The goal of your organization, or any organization for that matter, should have each and every customer feeling as though, “X company knows me, understands me well, and serves me well”.

This could not be any more true for donors. They must feel that the organization that they’re donating too understands them, or is striving too. If you’re an animal organization, do you know and track their animal’s name? If you work in disaster relief, do you remember the last type of disaster that they gave assistance for? Communicating these small details to donors will mean BIG contributions again in the future.