Donors renew at a predictable rate depending on the number of times they have provided the organization with a philanthropic gift.  First time donor renewal rates should be 25-50%, second time donor renewal rates should be 50-75%, and multiple time donor renewal rates should be 75% and up.  However, these renewal rates are greatly influenced by the work that you and your team are doing in the meantime.  In the first part of the year, it is hard to face the reality of those big gifts that didn’t make it into your mailbox at year end.  But don’t let them go without a deliberate effort to earn their gift again!

To positively impact your renewal rate among your major donors and in turn your overall fundraising success, your major gift program should contain a lot of the same elements that your less than major gift program contains but on a more personal, deliberate scale.  All major gift programs encompass the following:

  • Renewing Major Donors
  • Acquiring Major Donors
  • Cultivating Major Donors to make a Larger Gift

While this may look like something that could be tackled with a good direct mail campaign and communication plan, major donors should be treated with a deeper degree of attention and individual care in order for them to feel that you appreciate their support and that you have used their gift wisely.  You also want to always be working on building your relationship with them so that you are building their inclination to your mission, and cultivating them to their highest giving potential.  You can earn their trust and support but you have to pay close attention.

When developing a renewal plan for your Major Donors, consider the following:

  • Knowledge of your top donors – who are they? Why do they give? How did they become involved? What is their giving pattern? Which of your top donors are your game changers?
  • Segmenting your donor base – who are you calling a major donor? What is your communication plan for each segment?  What information do you let your major donors in on and how often do you contact them? Who contacts them?
  • Giving Levels – Giving levels serve an important purpose, and can act as a catalyst to your moves management plan.
  • Volunteer Support through a Donor Development Committee


This information was presented at our January 2017 Kennari Consulting client roundtable.