Donor Retention: How active commitment leads to long-term loyalty

volunteers with hands togetherThis one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to work to inspire active commitment in your supporters. Donors who are actively committed care beyond just a sense of obligation — these are not the people who give once a year to out of a sense of guilt. Actively committed supporters care about the club’s future, and very clearly see their own part in it. Fundraising expert Adrian Sargeant breaks the drivers of active commitment down into three parts: trust, concept of risk, and learning.

  • Trust: “The belief that the nonprofit is making efficient use of its funds and having a positive impact on people for whom the funds were intended.”
  • Concept of risk: “The extent to which a donor believes that harm will accrue to the beneficiary group were they to withdraw or cancel their gift and trust, in the sense of trusting the organization to have the impacts that it promised it would have on the beneficiary group or cause.”

  • Learning: “The extent to which individuals believe that they have deepened their knowledge of the organization through the communications they receive will also impact positively on commitment.”

Much of active commitment can be boiled down to effective communication. Supporters should be notified of how their donation is used, fostering both trust and a concept of risk. All communications from your club are chances to create a feeling of having learned about your organization. Emails, phone calls, mailings, and flyers all are opportunities to “teach” your supporters about your organization. Put yourself in your supporters’ shoes; what information might make them feel like they “know” you? In an email about a successful event, include a few small anecdotes from behind the scenes. If it’s particularly rich, share club history. Don’t miss an opportunity to inform potential supporters of what you do. In Connecticut, the high school newspaper featured a story on the Staples High School booster club’s efforts, informing a number of future alumni donors of the important work the club does. The more your supporters trust you, understand the tangible effect of their donation, and feel like they know you, the more likely they are to feel an active commitment to your club’s future.

This post is part of a series on donor retention. For more tips on keeping your donors loyal, check out our rundown of fundraising expert Adrian Sargeant’s three drivers of donor loyalty: satisfactionidentification, and active commitment.

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