4 Tips for Avoiding Monthly Donor Churn During COVID-19 (and Beyond)

  • April 24, 2020
  • by Rachael Ahrens

While it’s still uncertain how overall fundraising revenue in 2020 will look given the challenges presented by COVID-19, reports have shown that charities in the U.K. saw a 41% year-over-year increase in cancelled monthly donations in March 2020. Economic and personal insecurity can present unique challenges for your monthly giving program but there is plenty you can do to combat loss with simple, feel-good donor retention strategies. And, these strategies might even brighten your day as well!

Your donors may be feeling alone and scared, just like you may be. Brené Brown has taught me that simply being there for others has enormous impact. When we give ourselves generously, we are memorable to others and our own minds are soothed.

How can you translate this valuable life-lesson to your fundraising work to ensure your programs remain funded (and that you feel motivated instead of worried)? The answer is authentically connecting with your constituents and solidifying your relationship with them.


1. Pick Up the Phone


Start personally calling your monthly donors and simply thank them. No asks or upgrades! Just meaningful human connection. Even if you leave a voicemail, your oxytocin levels will skyrocket, and the sentiment of gratitude will be treasured by your donor. The organizations that go above and beyond are less likely to see monthly donor churn.

With social distancing still in full effect in most places, you might find that donors are home and happy to chat with you. If I’m honest, my plants are getting a bit bored of my conversation! I’d be thrilled to speak with someone at my favorite nonprofit about the good work they do. And that personal connection would likely keep that organization far from the chopping block if I felt I needed to make philanthropic budget cuts.

Have too many monthly donors to call? Lucky you! Start calling first-time monthly donors in the last six months. Newbies are more likely to reconsider their gifts so solidifying those relationships are top priority. Also, you rarely know a donor’s potential to give so do not limit yourself to only calling donors who make large gifts.


2. Connect on Social


Don’t forget about using social media for creative gratitude as well. Every morning start your day by thanking a monthly donor by name. Your donors will swoon and you’ll get much-needed motivation.


3. Update Your Investors


Your donors also need reassurance that their support is well used. Investors expect a return! Send a lovely “investor relation” message. You’re already doing this regularly, right?


4. Follow Up with Donors Who Cancel


If a donor does cancel their gift, notice it! Reach out to them personally a month or two after they cancel to invite them back. Even if they don’t renew, they’ll be touched you noticed they left and will keep you top of mind when they feel comfortable enough to give again.


Authentic connection might not translate immediately to more dollars in the bank, but April showers bring May flowers. The relationships you strengthen now, while your supporters crave human connection, can ensure you keep as many monthly supporters as possible and will pay off in the future too. And it might even brighten your day also. That’s what I call a winning strategy!