How to Increase Donations From Your Current Donors

June 1, 2018
5 minutes

Want to increase your overall donations? Of course you do. 

...But how? 

Easy! Get a bazillion new donors! 

Or maybe there’s an easier way. What if you could increase donations simply by focusing on your current donor base? Think about it this way: Your current donors have already proven they want to support your organization and that they care about the work you do. 

You’ve just identified your nonprofit’s biggest fans and found the perfect place to start maximizing donations. Here’s how you can earn more per donor right away.

Find patterns within your donor data

Take a look at your donor analytics, with info like where they live or the timing of their donations, and start looking for patterns. Your goal is to find similarities within your known donors so you can make groupings. Put all the donors who supported a certain project on their own list. The donors who gave on Giving Tuesday can go on another list. It’s ok if donors are grouped into more than one list (just don't send all the emails to anyone on multiple lists)!

Now that you’ve created groupings of similar donors, message each list with a personalized follow-up.

Here’s an example: You have a project coming up that’s similar to a program you ran in the past. Email the group of donors who gave during that past program and say something like, "If 50 of our supporters contributed $10 each, we could accomplish our goal!"

Bonus: By grouping your donors, you also avoid committing the sin of sending out generic marketing emails. Uncovering patterns beyond just the Amount Given is a great way to recognize your donors and make sure they feel seen.

Maximize your wealth screenings

Analyzing the background data you have on your current donors will only get you so far. If you really want to customize your donation ask, wealth screenings are the way to go. Once you know the true worth of your donors, you can figure out a reasonable amount to ask from them. 

It’s true, they gave a low amount last year, say $5, but you know they have a higher-than-median salary. Asking for $10 this year—or even $50—won’t sound outrageous to them. If a donor has a lower or mid-range net worth, ask for something small, like a $1 increase, or suggest they cover transaction fees (see below) to maximize their contribution. 

Let's say you find a real shocker: a donor with a crazy high net-worth. Don't be afraid to give them a call. Ask them what they think of your programs. Get their feedback. Then tell them about the great new project you're starting. Even better? Take them out to coffee if you can. It's an industry secret that donors will give 10 times more after a hyper-personalized ask than a generic one.​

Give them the option to cover transaction fees

Payment processing fees—can’t get around ‘em, amirite? Especially when it comes to online giving. Fees vary but usually range between 2% and 3%, which means a gift of $5 is really a gift of $4.85. Multiply that by a jillion, and that’s a lot of lost donation money. 

An easy way to recoup payment processing costs is to ask donors if they’d cover the transaction fee. You can even make it super simple by adding a checkbox for the donor to click (or check off on paper). Humblebrag Alert: Funraise’s donation form offers this as a free optional feature. 

To go one step further, think about adding platform-hosting costs to the percentage. Explain to donors that by donating 5% more—$.25 cents on top of that $5— they’ll help cover technology expenses. Remind donors of the importance to your org to provide easy online giving options; wouldn’t they prefer to see 100% of their base donation go toward your cause? 

Lots of donors will accept the cost since it’s so nominal. Plus, anytime you make it easy for your donor to say ‘yes,’ you increase their feelings of generosity (and your donations)!

A hand-drawn pear, pineapple, and orange sit together.
Increase your donors' feelings of generosity

Increase your ask before their credit card expires

Credit card expirations are such a nuisance! If a donor doesn’t take the time to update their payment information, the result to your organization is lost dollars. Set up a reminder message to go out before their card expires and simultaneously use it as an opportunity to challenge them to give more. 

Thank them for their previous gifts, describe the good that’s already come as a result of their generosity, and inform them of what a slight increase in their gift would help accomplish. If you can, add a link or button asking them to “Increase your donation by $x.” One thing will lead to another… and bam! More donation dollars.

Encourage donors to look into employer donation matching

Who remembers everything HR tells you when you’re onboarding at a new job? Hidden in those insurance documents and benefits opt-ins is one of your best secrets to increased donations: employer donation matching! Your donors may be eligible to have their donation dollars matched by their employer, so make sure they check. This is free money for you and them, and an easy way to increase your donors' contribution and their pride.

Humblebrag #2: Funraise makes it easy to find donation matching information through our matching gift integration with Double the Donation. Donors can look up their employer right in the donation form. It's a simple way to increase donations right away.

Challenge your donors to increase their giving amount

It seems obvious; you won’t get more unless you ask. But, once again, it’s all about using your donor data. Here’s when you group donors by the amount they usually give. Focus on smaller donations and challenge these donors to increase their gift by a relatively small amount. 

If they gave $5 last year, how about $6 this year? Or maybe $10? 

Don’t focus on how little this will affect their financial lives with a comment like, “for the cost of a few Starbucks frappuccinos you can up your contribution.” Instead, describe how an insignificant amount of money equals a significant step in your overall mission. 

Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them: Five dollars more is one meal sent to a hungry person or an hour of education spent helping a child read. Keep the numbers relatable and the goals attainable, and you’ll find donors will see how the simple act of a tiny increase can have a real impact.

Hopefully, you acquire a zillion new donors this year, but in the meantime, make sure you’re giving your fanbase donors love and encouragement so they stay passionate about your organization’s mission. With a little strategy and some great communication, you may find your donors are excited to give you more.

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