4 ways to use digital to retain donors

4 Ways To Use Digital Feature

Digital fundraising is famous for getting new donors in through your charity’s doors. By the bucket load, if you’re lucky. But what happens once they’re in?

Keeping your new donors engaged, retaining your existing donors, and increasing repeat participation rates in your challenge events through digital all raises vital funds too. And unlike acquisition campaigns, you aren’t competing tooth and nail with all the other charities out there when you do it.

Here are four ways to use digital for retention.

1. Create an impact story bank

Retention is all about making your donors and supporters feel great about the impact of their support so far.

So gather up all those case studies and stats that show them how much they’ve helped. Those nuggets will be hiding in:

  • funding applications on your shared drive
  • on the ‘What we do’ section of your website
  • hidden in policy reports.
  • in your colleagues’ heads

Take the best bits out, and put them in a shiny new folder available to all.

Your new impact story bank will form the basis of all your digital retention work.

2. Thank in your emails

42% of marketers across all industries say email is central to retention. So if you aren’t sending messages to your list that aim to keep your donors and fundraisers interested, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

Here’s a great example of a retention email from Child’s i Foundation


Note how the email is only saying thank you. Imagine how much less impact it would have if it was just one story of many a big, multi-story newsletter.

If you can, send your retention email to a specific segment of your list, not the whole list. That way you can personalise the content to acknowledge the exact contribution that recipient has made, whether it’s a monthly gift or a marathon.

Tailoring your content this way makes people feel special. People who feel special contribute more.

3. Thank via social media

Your donors, campaigners and supporters probably like your page on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.

So at the very least, publish a few posts a week aimed at your most valuable audience – current donors and supporters.

Here’s a nice story from Teenage Cancer Trust’s Facebook page that does just that. 


4. Ask for more

When someone supports a charity through a regular gift say, they aren’t saying that that’s the most they’ll ever do. Quite the opposite in fact – that initial support suggests they like what you do and would be open to doing even more.

So while it might be counter-intuitive, asking for more from your supporters gets them more engaged and could even make them more receptive to financial asks.

Create a list of soft asks, the things that people can do for you without too much effort. Things like:

  • liking you on Facebook
  • following you on Twitter
  • signing Change.org petitions
  • emailing their MP about an issue important to your charity
  • taking part in user research to inform your fundraising products.

Here’s an example of a Compassion in World Farming email. They’re big on campaigns like this, and it creates an army of people who get more and more into what CIWF do. That’s bound to create a welcome environment for fundraising asks when they do come.



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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap