May 2, 2022

How To Keep Your Cause At The Forefront Of Donors’ Minds


You’re worried about spamming your supporters. That’s understandable. You’ve also probably heard to hit up your supporters, many times, over many platforms. I know, at least a few of you reading this have rolled your eyes at the “crazy” amount of times you’re supposed to send those messages. I get it. But you want to keep your supporters, right? Even more, you want to cultivate them into not only supporters, but also advocates for your cause, right? Then you will need to talk to them; and I do mean *frequently*.

Let’s talk about two hypotheses on memory retention: the Forgetting Curve and Spaced Repetition. These are usually discussed within the context of learning strategies, but the concepts are applicable in many ways. Say, for example, reminding your supporters of your organization.

The Forgetting Curve

The simplified explanation of the Forgetting Curve is this: if you don’t remind someone of a topic, they will forget it at a relatively standard rate.  And—surprisingly, I know—if you remind them of that topic before they forget it, the majority of the topic is better remembered. In other words, keeping the topic at the forefront of someone’s mind, allows it to be more easily recalled. There’s been several studies on the attempt to determine the rate of loss and the rate of retention gained from reminders, or spaced repetition. The numbers may vary wildly, but every study shows that the information after the reminder takes longer to forget.

This means, for example, if you forget about 50% of a learned topic after one day, then refresh your knowledge of that topic, it then takes about 3-4 days before you forget 50% of it. Refresh or remind yourself again and it may take 6-8 days before you drop to that 50% level again. That means with just two reminders, your memory of something can be retained for a couple weeks. Remind again, and you’re into the months range.

How Does This Relate To Nonprofits?

“Okay, okay. But, what’s that got to do with me as a non-profit organization?”

Even though this concept is normally applied to successful learning, it makes for a valuable marketing tool. In fact, it’s often the basis of marketing. Granted, these forthcoming examples mean my kids watch way too much TV, but; whenever we decide to go to Subway for lunch, one of my boys will always say “Eat Fresh.”  When I was recently having a conversation and mentioned “Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” my son exclaimed from the other room: “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!”

By getting your message out there, frequently, and with meaningful content, you are increasing the chances of people remembering you when it’s most important. You send stories throughout the year, you send many messages and updates around your event, and that will work its way into people’s memory. Maybe not immediately, but when it matters. When they have the urge to donate. When they have the urge to volunteer. When they have the need, your organization will easily come to mind. Your organization will be at the forefront of where they go.

How To Incorporate Into Your Fundraising Strategy

The great news is that the first steps of applying these principles are already built into GiveSmart. People who text-to-donate at your event, but don’t follow-through, will be sent automatic reminders asking to complete their pledge. For the most effective fulfillment rates, we recommend: a text reminder 1 day after, 4 days after and then a final reminder at 8 days if still not completed. In fact, pledges jump to an 84% fulfillment rate when these text reminders are sent. Now they’re more inclined to remember you and therefore more inclined to donate to your cause.  

We talk about the importance of thanking your donors within the first forty eight hours and continuing to cultivate them with updates and different types of thank you’s. Well, as soon as they submit their donation, they’ll get that automated thank you and email receipt. But that’s not enough, you need to do more. Get personal. Send them an email letting them know how much you appreciate their donation and exactly what it will do for your organization. Do it within the first 1-2 days to ensure they retain what you send them.

Catching on? Simple acts like personalized thank you’s are often things we take for granted or have forgotten in today’s fast paced world. But they can really make a difference. Get people involved and get your message to stick in their minds through meaningful interaction.

So, if you’ve read this far, maybe you’ve been wondering about that asterisk in the first paragraph about “frequently.” What is “frequently?” Well, the important part isn’t the “frequently,” it’s the “talk to them.”  While this is a topic for another post (yep, coming soon!), simply put, talk to them. Engage. Have a conversation. I don’t mean a copy & paste done 4-5 times. A conversation builds on previous entries. Keep the topic the same, whether it’s about or from your organization. That staged repetition will kick in, you’ll bypass the Forgetting Curve and will be cultivating lifelong supporters in no time.


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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County