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How to Engage Donors Creatively After the Giving Season


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Published December 20, 2022 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The days, weeks, and months following the year-end season can be more critical to the long-term health of your organization than the holidays. That’s why it’s never too early to think about donor retention. Start planning how your nonprofit will engage donors into the new year based on today’s fundraising trends and insights.

Let’s cover how you can get creative with donor-engagement initiatives to retain year-end supporters and new donors throughout 2022.

Read Why America Gives 2022

Make a First Impression That Ignites Donor Retention

Your donor experience matters. That’s why supporters delighted by an intuitive campaign page lead to a seamless checkout flow and are more likely to share your cause with their network of loyal peers and passionate philanthropists.

Step one to retaining new donors acquired during the holiday season is to make a strong impression from their first interaction with your organization.

Offer a fulfilling giving season experience that kicks off on Giving Tuesday and lasts throughout every year-end touchpoint. Then, stand out by making each donor feel like they play a valuable role in your nonprofit’s mission—because they do. Once you establish a strong sense of connection, you can shape your donor relationships for years to come. This is especially true for donors giving for the first time.

Think of this analogy: Imagine finally getting a table at the popular new restaurant. You sit down and have one of the most delicious meals, but the service and experience were awful. Will you go back? Do you tell your friends to go? The lesson here is you can have a great cause and mission, but a lackluster experience can negatively impact your donors’ perception of your organization and willingness to support you again.

Surprisingly, catching a donor’s eye doesn’t necessarily need to be extravagant. As seen in Classy’s Why America Gives, it highlighted that the biggest motivator for donors to give to a cause is simply understanding the impact of their gift.

The Top Emotional Benefits of Donating for Loyal Donors: 

  1. Feeling gratitude for the work nonprofits do
  2. Feeling a part of a greater solution
  3. Feeling good about themselves

It’s crucial to note the emphasis that today’s donors place distinguishing an excellent giving experience from one that feels disjointed. Equally important is the ongoing expectation for options and flexibility during the donation checkout experience related to payment types and transaction fees. For example, our report showed that 37% of passive donors reconsider donations because they don’t believe their budget will cover an organization’s suggested donation amount.

By offering various giving frequencies and suggested donation amounts through their Classy donation forms, nonprofits can accommodate any financial situation. Plus, nonprofits can now accept PayPal and Venmo donations to provide more payment methods and provide donors the option to cover any associated fees—so they can give as much as possible to the cause.

Build your donor engagement strategies to attract and retain loyal donors in our latest report.

Explore Why America Gives 2022

Engage Donors With an Impactful Thank You

Donors will remember if you nail your thank you.

What’s more, if you use an online fundraising platform for your holiday campaigns, you can automate your thank you emails and donation receipts. After all, donors who land on your donation page and complete their gifts chose you over (or alongside) many causes.

So make your outreach feel personal to remain memorable instead of autoresponders. The goal is to sound human, use authenticity to leave a lasting impression, and make donors want to give to you again.

Here are some engagement opportunities to help follow up with your supporters:

  • Customize your thank you message and a donation receipt for your giving season donors to explain the impact of their gifts during that specific time. Add details like who was supported, how many people were impacted, or what the impact looked like (e.g., images). In other words, help them feel that their contributions make a tangible difference that lasts into the new year.
  • Go above and beyond with a personalized email in addition to your first thank you that continues the conversation. You can also comment on the activity wall of your campaign page to say thank you through a message that’s not attached to a receipt.
  • Demonstrate their gift’s impact with thank you notes from beneficiaries or team members explaining how their gift fueled your goals for this year and how they can continue to support. This helps donors see themselves as part of the solution to your challenges.

You’ll build relationships with a personalized thank you that isn’t attached to an ask. So think of it as another touchpoint to plan into your nurture strategy with donors, and get creative to let your authenticity shine.

Establish a Strong Social Media Presence to Engage Donors Organically

Social media produced conversion rates of page visitors to completed donations that reached up to 50% this year. It only makes sense as these platforms become the hubs for all things engagement and community. That also means it may be time to think about your social media presence in the new year.

Use the month following year-end as an opportunity to rethink your nonprofit’s social media template to see how you can organically show up on your supporters’ feeds to stay top of mind.

Here are some quick tips for using social media to retain donors:

  • Make frequent, impactful updates: Use each post as an opportunity to connect to donors authentically. By taking advantage of impactful images and storytelling, you remind donors why your cause needs continued support and makes a difference in the community. For example, a testimonial video from a child who received support over the holidays or an image of volunteering. These visuals are a powerful way to bring a human element to each post you share with your community.
  • Include a timely CTA: Use the updated link feature in Instagram stories and the ability to include links in posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter so that you always have a timely call to action. And so you don’t overwhelm donors with too many options, consider your monthly goals and add a link that will provide the easiest path to give. For example, you could feature your live year-end campaign following Giving Tuesday or a landing page for your recurring giving membership program when you need to boost sustainable revenue.

Honesty and impact matter more than ever with social media, and donors are more likely to give again when they receive regular updates about how your cause makes tangible changes with the funding received.

Think Through a Continuous Path to Give

Your giving season donors can be your next loyal supporters if you make it easy to give again. After all, what’s to stop a Giving Tuesday donor who gave $50 this year from writing a $1,000 check for your annual event next spring? So think about how to offer that next step in the giving journey to motivate increased levels of support.

How to Engage Donors With a Cross-Campaign Promotion:

1. Recurring donations: Consider asking your donors to make an automated gift they can set and forget. Recurring donations give supporters a way to contribute at a lower cost while bringing the same impact that a major donor might.

Our Recurring Donor Sentiment report asked recurring donors what motivates them to continue an ongoing donation. Use their feedback to position your ask better:

  • 61% are motivated by the affordability of segmenting gifts over time
  • 45% are motivated by swag
  • 44% are motivated by exclusive access to cause-related events

Download the Full Report Now

2.Peer-to-peer fundraising platforms: Use fundraising to help supporters raise more money than they could give on their own. Then, create tailored asks for your giving season donors to share your cause with their network through a peer-to-peer campaign. You could even opt to share a DIY-fundraising option to get their creative juices flowing on how they can fundraise for you whenever they want throughout the year.

3. Events: Make sure to promote your upcoming fundraising events as widely as possible to allow your supporters to interact with your mission in new ways. You can also incorporate hybrid events into your strategy to expand your reach, and how your nonprofit can spark interest ahead of your event’s formal registration period to generate a positive buzz.

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Segment Communication to Engage Donors Longer

People come together throughout the giving season for different reasons. As you better understand demographics within your donor base, customize your outreach based on communication preferences. That helps you create more meaningful outreach. Treating donors with some exclusivity can pay dividends if someone feels compelled to support you during the giving season.

Then, take your personalized communication to the next level by reaching out specifically to donors who gave to your Giving Tuesday or year-end campaign for the first time, as a repeat donor, or as a major gift. We break this down for you below.

Consider These Segmentation Ideas for Donor Stewardship:

1. First-time donors: Follow up with a handwritten letter or video to share how their actions during the giving season or on Giving Tuesday connect to your cause in a personalized way. For example, use their name and show them that they are much more than a transaction by inviting them to get involved in your annual event or upcoming campaigns. It’s also a great time to share your social media handles so they can feel involved with everything you do.

2. Return giving-season donors: Express that you know the supporter made an effort to return to your cause and stick around. It’s a great time to share peer-to-peer fundraising efforts for the coming year and encourage potential donors to get their communities involved in a team effort to make an even more significant impact.

3. Major gift donors: Source a recurring gift when someone makes a large gift, whether it’s for the first time or returning to give again during your year-end campaigns. It’s a great opportunity to explain how automated donations on a weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly basis can move the needle for your cause.

Outside of first-time or repeat donors, other data points that can help segment your lists include:

  • Location of donor
  • Gift amount
  • Specific program supported
  • Comment left with gift
  • Ecard sent to loved one

Understand How to Engage Donors for a Strong Retention Rate

Your donors came to you with a passion for making a difference. At the same time, there are always new causes to support coming their way. Remaining top of mind is the most straightforward strategy to retain their long-term loyalty.

But remember not to overthink it. Your organization already connects with each of your supporters uniquely. Simply reminding them why they hit that donate button the first time is plenty to impact ongoing support for your cause.

Use our latest donor behavior data in Why America Gives 2022 to tailor your approach based on who your donors are today and how you’d like your loyal donor base to grow in the future.


Download Why America Gives

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