A donor who has a positive experience when supporting a charity is more likely to continue giving than those donors who don’t. Equally, it costs much more to recruit new donors than it does to look after current ones. Add to this their role in sharing information about your cause to their networks and their participation in volunteering and campaigning activities, and a happy donor quickly becomes one of the most valuable assets a charity can have.

So what things can you do to convert your donor to a supporter?

Here are three simple principles your charity should consider to maintain long-lasting donor relationships.


Ultimately no one gives to an organisation; they give to help other people and communities. The charity is simply the conduit through which a supporter can achieve the change they want to see.

As such, a truly engaged and happy donor is one who feels they are making a difference – which might include contributing in other ways besides financially.

Therefore viewing this relationship as a partnership, rather than seeing individuals as just a source of money, is essential.
Jigsaw piecing together in a partnership


If you had a friend who only ever came to you when they wanted something, they wouldn’t be a very good friend. The same principle applies to the relationships supporters enjoy with charities. They don’t want to be asked repeatedly for further contributions, and they want to be appreciated for the gifts they do make. 

For James Moon, Advisory Manager at CAF, listening to donors about their needs and wants is critical, particularly when it comes to information about how they want to be involved with your cause.

“There will be some supporters who want to be kept up-to-date via a newsletter or will want to be invited to events, in which case you should send them the newsletter and invitations. But there will also be donors who don’t want any contact from charities at all, and that should also be respected,” says James.   

The best way to understand how regularly someone wants to be contacted is to ask them, says James. There are many ways in which you can do this, such as via an electronic survey, a form on the end of a letter or a phone call.

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides additional impetus for this, he adds. “GDPR affects data such as volunteer management, information about services users, campaigning and fundraising... It’s about who you’re engaging with as a charity, what personal data you’re holding, where it came from, who you share it with and how long you should be holding it for”. For more information about GDPR, visit the ICO website.

Hands shaking

When it comes to acknowledging a gift, a simple thank you can go a long way. However, a survey of more than 100 charities found that one in ten charities didn’t thank new donors who gave a first gift of less than £10, and almost one in five charities didn’t thank new donors giving less than £5.

“You can be thanked in different ways but the recognition and showing donors the impact their funds have, or can, make can be powerful way to help keep them engaged’, says James.


Nothing ruins the feeling of being a respected partner as easily as the sense that information is being held back or misrepresented.

Honest and regular updates as to how their money is being used are a must. This could be in the form of newsletters and case studies, or more detailed reports.

Either way, they should demonstrate the impact their gifts are achieving.  And don’t skirt the issue of admin costs when talking about expenditure. Better understanding as to how charities operate and the important role of costs such as staff, marketing and administration can contribute to enhanced trust and confidence.

Stack of pebbles reflected in water

Great supporter care doesn’t need to be complex. By keeping the above three principles in mind, you can ensure that all of your supporters remain happy and loyal for many years to come.

For more insight on how to develop your charity’s skills, our charity Advisory service can help.

Call the team on 03000 123 334.


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