3 min Read
June 26, 2015

3 ways to improve donor retention through a rebrand

Steven Shattuck, VP of Marketing at Bloomerang.

This post was written for Big Duck by Steven Shattuck, VP of Marketing at Bloomerang. Bloomerang helps nonprofit organizations reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.

We know from data found in The Rebrand Effect that a rebrand can, in some cases, improve donor retention. But why does it happen, and how can we ensure that it happens every time?

Why donors stay committed

To understand what moves the retention needle, it’s important to first understand why donors stay committed to an organization.

In his book Retention Fundraising, Roger Craver shares the results of a survey which asked respondents to rank, by order of importance, 32 drivers of donor commitment. Here were the top seven:

  • Donor perceives your organization to be effective in trying to achieve its mission.
  • Donor knows what to expect from your organization with each interaction.
  • Donor receives timely a thank you.
  • Donor receives opportunities to make his or her views known.
  • Donor is given the feeling that he or she is part of an important cause.
  • Donor feels his or her involvement is appreciated.
  • Donor receives information showing who is being helped.

Rather than just settling for an increase in retention as a pleasant side effect to rebranding, you can make it a defined, desired outcome. Using the above list as a primer, here are three ways to increase donor loyalty during and after a rebrand:

1. Involve stakeholders in the process

Donors want to feel involved in how the nonprofits they support operate. A rebrand is a perfect opportunity to let donors make their views known.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to run every idea past your entire donor database, while struggling to come a consensus on the proposed new direction of the brand.

But you can gather ideas, via phone calls, electronic surveys and in-person meetings. Even if they do not respond, merely receiving a survey will make your constituents feel as though their feedback is valued. And, who knows, you may glean valuable insights and perspectives that you would not have thought to include in the process.

2. Develop a culture of donor-centricity

A rebrand isn’t just about a new logo. It’s an opportunity to transform your entire culture. If donor retention is something you struggle with, you may need to look beyond the window dressing and address how donor-centric your organization truly is.

A rebrand is a good time to re-evaluate how you steward donors. Ask yourself:

  • Do our key performance indicators value donor retention over donor acquisition?
  • Does our team understand the cost associated with acquiring new donors versus retaining the ones we have?
  • Do we thank donors quickly and in a personal way? Is our board part of this process?
  • Do we have documented communications plans for each segment of donors, and do we follow through?
  • Do we make the donor the hero of the story in all of our communications?
  • Do we recognize donors publicly?
  • Do we resolve complaints quickly and in a satisfactory way?

Few nonprofits experience high retention rates without being donor-centric. Strong leadership here is key; if your founder, executive director and board don’t value donors above all else, neither will your staff.

3. Make mission impact a core value

Looking at drivers #1, #5 and #7, it’s clear to see that donors want to know that your nonprofit doesn’t just talk to the talk, but also walks the walk.

Take the time to examine your outbound communications, as well as your marketing collateral, and look for opportunities to communicate the impact of your organization. Remember to always keep the donor at the center. After all, it’s their support that makes it all possible.

If the goals of your rebrand don’t include increased donor loyalty, it’s likely won’t happen. If you aren’t measuring your donor retention rates at all (less than half of all nonprofits are) resolving to start doing so is a great goal for a rebrand; one that will put you ahead of most organizations.

Has your organization gone through a rebrand recently? Did you notice a bump in donor retention? Let me know in the comments below.