Roundtable discussion: how healthcare nonprofits can level-up donor retention

May 12th, 2021

Last year healthcare nonprofits had to quickly adapt while staying rooted in compassion as they worked tirelessly to care for patients.

Donor retention is one of the greatest obstacles facing the healthcare sector, having nearly half of our donors never go on to give another gift. It is mission-critical that we build deep, personal relationships with our donors from last year.

During this roundtable discussion, healthcare leaders gathered to discuss their strategies for reducing the distance between the donor and their impact, and how to engage donors as transformational partners in their mission.

Here is what they said.

1. Understanding the Motivations of Giving

Whether they become donors in that instance, or a year down the line, understanding where they first connected drives everything else.”- Amin Tehrani

Understanding how a donor came into contact with your organization is essential

in determining how you are going to cultivate that relationship. Winning the hearts and minds of the modern donor means we have to be tracking their behavior to better understand what motivates them to give in order to speak to every donor personally.

How can you begin building relationships at scale with the modern donor?

  • Listen, listen, listen. Ask better questions around what they care about, what their passions are, and what resonates with them.
  • Measure how people engage with your organization. Where do they spend time on your website, what emails do they open, and what messages resonate most with them?
  • Utilize automation to scale personalized messages to segments within your donor file

2. Utilize Multi-Channel To Reach Donors

Donors live in a world of personalized experiences and we can build deeper relationships with our donors by reaching them through their preferred channels. In fact, the State of Multi-Channel Donor Communications Study revealed that donors that receive communications in diverse channels have an increased lifetime value of 300%.

Start utilizing multi-channel communications by:

  • Segment lists you think will be high value donors, collect their story, and customize offers to those segments
  • Implement a donor journey that includes touchpoints across email, phone, automated voicemail, and direct mail
  • Utilize targeted ads on social media to a very concentrated, specific segment of your donor base
  • Paid advertisements are a great way to reach donors and raise awareness around mission-centric stories in the lead-up to an appeal or launching a campaign.

3. Highlight the Donor’s Story

You’re driving brand awareness. You’re driving people to act as ambassadors for your cause, your mission while collecting powerful stories”- Amin Tehrani

The relationship between your organization and your donors is a powerful connection intertwined by your mission. Our donor’s want to help. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and help impact change. Elevating a donor’s story will help elevate your mission and impact you have on your community.

Strategic tips when elevating a donor’s story:

  • Equip your donors and supporters by giving them tools and messaging to tell their story
  • Peer to Peer fundraising is a great way to highlight a donor’s story and the connection to your mission
  • Deliver participation asks from donors that can take their involvement from transactional to transformational
  • Utilizing a donor’s story to form cultivation ads to drive brand awareness when leading up to a campaign. This will improve retention, conversion rates, and activation rates.


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Virtuous gathered in-the-trench nonprofit leaders and go-forward-minded industry insiders to share how nonprofits thrived in 2020 and how they can plan to fuel growth in 2021. Leaders shared hopeful statistics, transformative strategic insights, and creative learnings to help the sector refocus and push their missions forward.

This is what they said.