Donor Engagement: Best Practices to Remember

In today’s giving landscape, it seems ever more elusive to earn and maintain engagement with donors—especially with donors dwindling.

A 2021 study published by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found only half of U.S. households donated to a charity. Looking into the giving patterns of more than 9k households, the study found a drop since the year 2000 from 66% of households donating to only 49.6% in their most recent study, according to CBS News 

>> Are you looking to upgrade your email fundraising and marketing and convert more subscribers to donors? Subscribe today to the Weekly SEND for free— and in 5 minutes every week, you’ll learn best practices.  

New studies are citing that giving may be returning, but volunteerism is down—making every communication an opportunity to drive the grantor/grantee relationship deeper.  

“The percentage of respondents who reported volunteering time, however, fell to 56 percent in 2021, continuing a downward trend from 65 percent in 2013, 64 percent in 2017, and 58 percent in 2020.” (Philanthropy News Digest 

So, what should nonprofits do right now to maximize their relationships and build connections?  

  1. Be mindful of the ask and its experience. Coming out of a pandemic, it’s difficult to ask struggling families for hard-earned money. Tie your ask to an opportunity for donors to feel as if they are making a real difference.  
  2. Communicate without dollar signs. One reason donors get frustrated and disengaged is they feel they only hear from an organization during times of financial stress. Encouraging donors to stay connected to see how their community’s cumulative give makes an impact is a great way to ensure they don’t feel they are only wanted for their dollars.  
  3. Let them experience your mission first-hand. We know storytelling is vital when it comes to nonprofit success, but do you know the power of donors experiencing the mission—through their own eyes? There’s no better way to gain volunteers, advocates, and givers than to encourage donors to join in, share on their social media and see in real-time what your organization accomplishes.  

Looking for other resources to help you develop better engagement and create successful planning strategies? We’re here to help. Check out our resources here. 

Looking for an older article?

We're in the process of migrating our blog. If you're looking for an older entry, please visit the archive to search for it.

Get our latest and greatest monthly!


Charities Review Council

Our mission is building donor and nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant and just communities. We envision healthy communities for all, benefiting from effective and trustworthy nonprofits that are supported by a well-informed public’s generosity.

Let’s Connect

1915 Highway 36 W Ste 133 • Roseville, Minnesota 55113-2709
Phone: (651) 224–7030 • E-mail:

Privacy Policy (5/9/19) • Terms of Use (5/9/19)

Log In