Stewarding #GivingTuesday: Increase Your Retention Rate

#GivingTuesday is the largest global day of giving and it’s fast approaching. According to, over $300 million was raised online in 2017, totaling 2.5 million gifts. This philanthropic effort continues to grow, especially across all social media efforts. In 2017 there were over 1,000,000 social mentions spreading the word. So, the question is; will the success of #GivingTuesday continue? According to the #GivingTuesday Insight Report, the month of November will witness a spike in charitable giving for many years to come. This is great news and even more reason to participate in this global day of giving.

#GivingTuesday is full of excitement and many goals. Retaining your first-time donor and sustaining your existing donors should be on your list. Assuring you have a successful retention rate starts with these four steps:

  • Inform: Your community needs to know about your involvement. You must inform them that your organization is participating in #GivingTuesday. You can do this through email blasts, social media outlets, updating your website and registering on
  • Communicate: Sharing your mission is vital to your organization’s success! Demonstrating your values is a great way to connect donors through your communication efforts. They need to know how your #GivingTuesday campaign is going throughout the entire day. This also builds momentum and excitement, donors thrive off this feeling!
  • Acknowledgement: Thanking your donors, within 48 hours of their gift, is imperative to sustaining your relationship. The letter should be personalized, reference your mission and the campaign, and reiterate how their financial contribution supported your mission. Do not, however, include a separate appeal or campaign push in this acknowledgement letter. As a best practice, your acknowledgement letters should not include a separate ask.
  • Engage: It’s important to understand why a first-time donor chose your organization. First-time donors are the costliest to retain and, ideally, you want to turn them into reoccurring donors. To accomplish this, you will need to uncover their passions and values to connect on a deeper level. Once you have learned the “why” behind their gift, and what is important to them, you can follow-up on any additional activities that were discussed in your conversations.

Get #GivingTuesday tips and resources in Blackbaud’s free toolkit: Download it now!

After #GivingTuesday

You have informed and clearly communicated to the community. You have received many donor gifts and thanked them within 48 hours. You are engaging them and learning their values, but you also need to maintain momentum! Sustaining your reoccurring donors is equally as important. Donors want four basic things:

  • Inclusion: Your donors and volunteers want to be included in your plans and goals. A great way to achieve this, is to practice a two-way line of communication. Hold a townhall meeting and update them on your goals, successes and struggles. Encourage their feedback and make them feel included.
  • Validation: Donors want you to hear their ideas, comments and feedback. They want reassurance that you understand and align with their thoughts. Practice active listening during in-person meetings. Body language is very important to developing trust.
  • Transparency: Communicate your needs to your donors and share your financial information. You can do this by creating a wish list on your website – this invites donors into your world. Additionally, you should share your financial statements so that donors can better understand your organization’s successes and struggles.
  • Information: Inform your donors through various platforms to ensure they are well informed. You can do this through newsletters, magazines, emails, social media and personal phone calls (for major donors).

Creating a Stewardship Plan for #GivingTuesday Donors

Next you will need a stewardship plan to secure retention rates.  Stewarding is defined as the “responsibility of overseeing and protecting something considered worth caring for and preserving.” Your relationship with your donors is absolutely worth preserving. Before you develop your plan, take a step back and become donor centric. Think like a donor and understand their wants/needs. #GivingTuesday will create new traffic on your website and you should prepare accordingly. Segment your plan into donor levels, creating customized levels, since no two donors are alike.

Below is an example of a stewardship plan for the week of #GivingTuesday. This plan will help you retain those first-time and reoccurring donors.

First-time donor: These donors need the most stewarding and are the costliest to acquire. An automated email should be generated as soon as their donation is processed. They should also receive an acknowledgement letter within 48 hours of their gift. The final step would be a phone call to learn their values, what drives them and any interests they have. Invite them onsite for a tour to engage them even quicker.

  • What motivated them to give?
  • How did they hear about your organization?
  • Do they know/understand your mission?
  • Have they visited your facility or website?

Second-time donor: Understand why they gave again and consider timing been between their donations. Ask if their interests have changed since their first donation. Make sure to follow-up on any action items from your conversation.

  • Why did they give again?
  • Why your organization?
  • How long in between donations?
  • Have they been engaged since their first donation?

Annual donor: Know what motivates them and their preferred communication style. Listen to their feedback, ideas and comments. Follow-up on any conversation discoveries to gain their trust and keep their attention. Also, make sure they can convey your mission correctly while they are networking in your community.

  • Do they give to any other organizations?
  • Do they understand your mission?
  • Do they frequent your facility or website?
  • Do they attend exclusive event opportunities?

Major donors: These donors believe in your mission, feel respected and trust your staff. You must know everything about this group and connect with them on a personal level. Make sure to take interest in their families and help them celebrate their milestones. Personalization is the key to sustaining your major donors.

  • Are they engaged?
  • Do they attend events?
  • What is their motivator?

#GivingTuesday is a great way to attract new donors or re-engage current ones who have not given recently. This global day of giving was built for you and donors expect to hear from you! The week of and after #GivingTuesday is critical to your donor retention rate. Treat your donors as you would want to be treated and you will be successful in retaining their support for years to come!

Get more tips on how keep reoccurring donors involved and turning your first-time givers into sustained donors in Tanya’s webinar: Stewarding the #GivingTuesday Donor.

#GivingTuesday tips