When you have a problem with donor retention, it seems like dollars are slipping through the cracks. The question of why donors stop giving can become all-consuming and start to seem very personal. If you’ve already done the work to build a relationship and inspire someone to give once, shouldn’t it be easy to motivate them to donate again?

Why Donors Stop Giving on Your Website (and Beyond)

In a related post on red flags for supporters before they make website donations, we talked about some of the expectations that donors have when they come to your website. A typical donor wants to give with a credit/debit card as long as your organization seems credible and the path to making a payment is straightforward and secure.

Nailing that part of the fundraising process can make you feel like a million bucks. 

But have you noticed that your donors aren’t returning to give again? If they gave one time, what’s stopping them from repeating the same journey? Taking a closer look at donor expectations, it’s possible that:

  • They didn’t like the online donation process and only begrudgingly made it through the first time.
  • After making a donation, they started to doubt the organization’s credibility, charitable status or reputation.
  • They aren’t sure that their gift mattered to the nonprofit itself or the community that you serve.
  • They simply forgot about your organization and moved on.

As you begin to investigate the root of your donor retention woes, taking a closer look at what happens after the first gift is a helpful place to start.

Red Flags After Making Website Donations

There are many reasons why a donor might not choose to give again, and short of asking them directly, you’ll want to make sure that your post-giving process isn’t scaring them off from making future website donations. 

Your donation experience is purely transactional.

After their donation payment is complete, what happens next for your donors? Are they redirected to another page on your website with a compelling “thank you”? If you’re sending them back to the homepage or displaying a “your donation is complete” message, you’re reinforcing the transaction rather than a relationship.

Instead, work on creating a Thank You for donating page that keeps up the donor’s momentum by confirming and celebrating their gift, as well as directing them to the next step with your organization.

There’s a lack of immediate donation follow-up.

A donor who wonders if their donation actually worked and went through is a donor that will be skeptical of giving again. One way of reassuring them is making sure that you have a process in place to immediately send a confirmation email that includes the details of their donation in addition to a thank you message.

Ideally, this would happen automatically using your website’s donation system or once their information enters your donor database. A receipt is better than nothing at all, but invest the time to craft an email that your ideal donor would appreciate.

Donors don’t receive updated reporting on the outcomes.

Donors who give again are inspired by the work you’ve been able to accomplish and the plans you have for the future. Have you made it easy for them to know what those things are? If your website content is outdated, the blog is empty, and you’re not consistent about email or social media updates, red flags are flying about what you do with donations.

In addition to an Impact page, consider other places on your site where you could offer data about your results, testimonials, or repurpose your annual report.

They don’t get plugged into the donor (and larger) community.

Among the different types of donor motivations is the desire to feel a sense of collective impact—that giving to your cause connects the donor with other like-minded people making a difference or reaching a goal. There’s an expectation that their donation opens the door to new people, information and experiences. 

Can your donors learn about other ways to get involved? Do they hear about (or from) other supporters and why they give? Do they see third-party endorsements and media coverage that validates your work? 

Think of your website as a community-building tool. A good place to start is integrating your website donation process with tools like your email marketing platform so that donors are connected on a technical level and don’t fall through the communication cracks.

Donors develop privacy concerns about their personal information.

Internet users are increasingly concerned about the safety and storage of personal information. In terms of fundraising, donors may feel more at risk when providing credit card or banking information through an outdated or barely functional website. And they are going to be very annoyed if the information that they share with you ends up in the hands of someone else, like giving or selling your mailing list to another nonprofit, especially without notice and authorization.

Supporters should be able to come to your website to learn about your privacy policy, and some organizations have a donor-specific privacy policy to further clarify their process and commitments.

Assess Your Online Fundraising

See how your site measures up to best practices for website donations and donor cultivation. Download the free Donor Flow Optimizer to discover where you’re doing well and which improvements you should prioritize.

If you find yourself wondering why donors stop giving to your nonprofit, keep in mind that the decisions don’t reflect the value of your cause or necessarily have anything to do with your organization. But you can do something to keep gifts from slipping through the cracks by making sure that their initial giving experience is positive and welcoming.

Once you’ve lowered the red flags that are hurting your fundraising efforts, the donor journey works in your favor rather than against it.

What feedback have you received about the giving process on your website? Do you have insights to share on why donors stop giving? Or any website donations you regret based on the post-giving experience? See you in the comments.