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Donor Management Goals: 6 Types to Know + Strategies for Success

7 min read
May 28, 2024
Shannon Whitehead headshot
Shannon Whitehead
Content Strategist, Neon One

Donor management can make or break a nonprofit’s donor relationships and retention efforts. In fact, one of the top five reasons donors stop donating is that they’re no longer personally involved in the organization. Your donor management strategy should help donors stay involved by keeping them engaged—setting donor management goals can help you do just that.

Creating donor management goals doesn’t have to be complicated. Today, we’ll keep it simple with a brief overview of six types of donor management goals, plus best practices for setting and reaching them.

What Is Donor Management?

Donor management is the act of nurturing and maintaining donor relationships. The donor management process can include a wide range of activities, from acquiring new supporters to engaging and retaining existing ones.

The most effective donor management practices help nonprofits build a solid foundation of loyal, supportive donors and, ultimately, foster long-term relationships that lead to sustained support.

How Do Donor Management Goals Help?

You may wonder, “Why can’t we just do donor management? Why do we need donor management goals?” Here’s why: goals are a huge help in staying focused!

Donor management goals help nonprofits by giving them a clear, structured framework for managing relationships with their supporters. Goals take you from throwing ideas at a wall to see what sticks, so to speak, to a strategic approach that can help strengthen donor loyalty and increase donor lifetimes.

When you set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals, you’re more prepared to track your progress, identify weak spots in your donor management strategy, and allocate resources appropriately. More on S.M.A.R.T. goals later!

6 Key Types of Donor Management Goals

Effective donor management is mission-critical for every nonprofit’s sustainability and growth. Set clear and strategic goals to ensure your organization is set up for donor relationship-sustaining success. Let’s explore six categories of donor management goals to consider! 

1. Acquisition

Do you want to see more new faces this year? Acquisition goals provide a clear objective for expanding your donor base. An example of a donor acquisition goal is “Increase the number of new individual donors by 20% within the next 12 months through targeted outreach to potential donors and broader marketing efforts.”

The methods for acquiring new donors and the goal itself will vary, but acquisition goals are any donor management goals that help attract new supporters.

2. Retention

Every organization has a different donor acquisition cost, but retaining a current donor is always more cost-effective than acquiring a new one.

Donor retention is one of the most important parts of donor management, as it achieves the ultimate goal of maintaining your donors’ support. Retention goals help you focus your efforts on building loyalty, increasing your donors’ lifetime value, helping them feel connected to your mission, and encouraging ongoing support. 

An example of a retention goal is “Improve donor retention rates by 15% over the next 12 months through sending personalized thank-you messages, quarterly impact reports, and planning donor-exclusive events.”

3. Communications

Successful donor management is impossible without effective communication. It’s important to include goals for improving communications within your donor management goals. These goals will hold your team accountable for implementing changes that create stronger connections and keep donors informed.

An example goal could be to “Boost donor engagement by increasing our monthly newsletter open rate by 20% in the next eight months with personalized communications, segmented email lists, and subject line testing.” Communications goals can also include a certain number of handwritten thank-you notes and phone calls or other marketing metrics. You can add a question about communication preferences to a donor survey to learn how your supporters want to receive communication, how they feel about your current communications, and what they think could be improved.

4. Data Management

Accurate donor information ensures that your communications go to the right place and helps you avoid awkward mistakes. Did a donor have a messy exit from a company that’s associated with them in your database? Did a donor get a divorce and change their name? Did a donor give $20 or $200 to your most recent campaign? Proper data management results in the correct answers to questions like these, which can save you from offending a donor or appearing careless.

A data management goal could be something like: “Achieve 95% confirmed data accuracy in our donor database within the next 12 months through a comprehensive audit, information updates completed by the development team, and creating data maintenance policies.” When coming up with data management goals, ask what your team can do to verify the accuracy of donor data, enhance personalized engagement with the data at your disposal, and make informed decisions based on donor information.

5. Stewardship

Donor stewardship is all about acknowledging and appreciating your supporters. Stewardship should have a place in your donor management goals because these goals will help you increase donor satisfaction and, ultimately, retention.

You can really get creative with donor stewardship goals and devise a plan that makes your supporters feel seen and valued. An example of a stewardship goal is “Implement a thorough stewardship plan that includes sending a personalized thank-you note within 48 hours of receiving a donation and hosting donor appreciation events twice a year.” Also, consider calculating your donor satisfaction rate and aiming to increase it by a specific percentage over a specific period of time.

6. Engagement

Of all the adjectives you want your donors to be when it comes to your organization (happy, connected, etc.), engaged is one of the most important. You can have the most accurate database out there or the greatest donor acquisition plan known to man—but without engaging your current donor base, you’re not practicing good donor management.

When setting engagement goals, consider what would deepen relationships between your nonprofit and your donors. That could mean more opportunities for one-on-one time with your leaders, informational online or offline events, or developing communities where donors can interact with each other and feel part of a group that’s passionate about your mission.

Many metrics can tell you a lot about where you are with donor engagement: your retention rate, how many first-time donors gave a second time, the number of people who sign up for events or volunteer opportunities, social media engagement, etc. For example, a donor management goal for boosting engagement might be, “Create an online donor community and reach 100 members within the next eight months.” 

Making and Measuring Your Donor Management Goals 

Your donor management goals encompass many different aspects of donor relations, from acquiring new supporters to maintaining existing relationships. But make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.! S.M.A.R.T. goals and KPIs are two important acronyms that will help you set goals that lead to positive results. Without further ado, here’s what they mean.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This goal-setting system helps create meaningful goals that can be successfully tracked. You may have noticed that every example goal in the section above had specific requirements, measurable numbers like percentages attached, a clear indicator of when it’s been achieved, relevance to the overall objective (retention, engagement, etc.), and a deadline or timeline.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. These metrics are essential for nonprofits that want to measure the effectiveness of their donor management efforts. Your KPIs will live within the measurable part of your S.M.A.R.T. goals. For example, a KPI for donor acquisition could be the conversion rate of prospects to donors and, for data management, the percentage of duplicate records that were identified and merged.

Don’t skip these donor management best practices—ensuring your goals are S.M.A.R.T. and keeping up with your KPIs will prevent you from setting fluffy goals that don’t push your mission forward. 

Exceed Your Donor Management Goals With This Guide

Setting and achieving donor management goals is essential for any nonprofit organization’s sustained success and growth. Read the guide below to go beyond goal-setting and gain a deeper understanding of donor management as a whole. It breaks down every aspect of donor management and provides tips for thriving in each and crushing your goals. Check it out!

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