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5 Great Ways to Engage Donors with Digital Reporting

by Josh Kligman

Nonprofits are always looking for new ways to retain donors. While hosting new fundraisers and sending thank-you notes are crucial for retention, donors also need to feel engaged in other ways. Donors that aren’t engaged in the mission and story of your organization are less likely to want to continue contributing. But, donors that are engaged are excited to give and continue being a part of your story.

In this blog post, we’ll unpack all the basics of donor retention, and answer important questions like:

  • What is donor retention and why is it essential?
  • What does engagement have to do with retention?
  • What is digital reporting and why is it important for engagement and retention?

Plus, we’ll walk you through a stellar example of a great digital report in action.

What is donor retention and why it’s important?

If you’re a nonprofit veteran, you probably know a thing or two about donor retention. If you’re new to the nonprofit industry, donor retention refers to the number of donors that contribute to your organization over time. Nonprofits with “good” donor retention have a consistent base of donors they can rely on. Nonprofits with poor donor retention tend to focus more on attracting new donors to their organization.

While acquiring new donors is an important strategy, donor retention often has a higher ROI.

Finding new donors often takes a lot of work, without a promise of a huge payoff. Donor retention, however, has a better ROI, and helps foster the long-term growth and success of a nonprofit.

What does engagement have to do with donor retention?

Engagement is a great way to encourage donor retention. When nonprofits can supply donors with different ways to participate in the mission—volunteering, giving, etc.—they’re more likely to stick around.

When you engage donors, you remind them of your story and ask them to be a part of it. This leads to more awareness of your cause, connection to your mission, and of course—more donations.

What is a digital report?

There are plenty of ways to engage supporters, but many fall short of really nailing retention. Fundraisers often lack important context, newsletters often lack emotional stories, and volunteer opportunities often lack transparency. That’s why digital reports are a great addition or alternative to other solicitation practices.

Types of reports:

Case studies

Case studies offer an intimate glimpse into one story—whether it’s the story of a beneficiary or the success of a program or initiative.

Impact reports

Impact reports measure the progress of specific initiatives over a period of time. They give readers insight into the goals, logistics, and outcomes of the nonprofit’s efforts.

Annual reports.

Annual reports are a staple in the nonprofit industry. Published once a year, the annual report informs stakeholders of all of the highlights and crucial findings from the last year.

Event recaps.

Perfect for selling sponsorships, enticing new donors, and thanking stakeholders, event recaps include the highlights of specific events.

Board reports

 A board report keeps a nonprofit’s board of directors abreast of news and updates. It’s ideal for keeping in touch with your board and keeping them informed.

Each of these reports, if done well, are excellent donor retention tools. With interactive elements like videos and clickable links, a digital report engages and excites donors.

Unlike other retention tools, digital reports tackle all of the major areas:

Spread awareness

 Donors need to be reminded of your cause, whether they’ve donated before or not. A great digital report, no matter the purpose, reiterates your mission and goals, and reminds donors of why they should continue contributing,

Show impact

Evidence of impact is essential for keeping donors informed and excited. Plus, it fosters transparency and trust. When donors can see their contributions make an impact, they’re more likely to donate again. And, trust your organization’s practices.

Inspire action

 Great digital reports inspire action through emotional storytelling, strategically placed CTAs, and data visualization. They encourage readers to help the cause, time and time again.

Give thanks

Gratitude is an essential practice for donor retention. Most successful nonprofit digital reports nail this, too. They spotlight donors and include honor rolls.

Create an emotional connection

With the inclusion of photos, videos, and qualitative impact like testimonials, donors feel emotionally connected to the mission. And emotional connection breeds donations.

To better understand how nonprofits can use digital reports as a donor retention tool, let’s take a look at an example.

Wondering how you can create a digital report that turns readers into donors? Yearly—a nonprofit-first software solution—is the best option for nonprofits, no matter their size. With chart builders, drag and drop editing, and more, Yearly is trusted by hundreds of nonprofits to build award-winning reports.

A great example of an engaging digital report

Data visualization

This annual report from Engender Health engages donors using data visualization. Instead of listing countries they’ve impacted, they show them. This helps donors feel more connected and in control of their donations.

Emotional storytelling

Engender Health uses beneficiary testimonials—both written and in video format—to illustrate the impact of contributions. The inclusion of a video allows donors to interact with the story rather than just read it.

Credibility and interactivity

By including tweets and social media posts, Engender Health builds its credibility as an expert in the space through informative content. The clickable posts are great for exciting readers and making them feel a part of the community.

Unique mission and brand

Donors want to support causes that are authentic to their branding and mission. The inclusion of individual stories and impact allows Engender Health to stand out amongst similar organizations.

How to share an engaging digital report with stakeholders

Once you’ve created a digital report, it’s time to share it with donors.

Social media

Post your web-based report on Linked, Twitter, or Facebook. Because such a huge percentage of giving happens online, social media is the perfect place to show off your impact and engage donors.


Link to your report in your monthly newsletter or quarterly roundup! Donors love hearing about updates and news, and a digital report is great for keeping them informed.


Host your digital report right on your website so stakeholders can take a look at any time. Plus, it’ll help give your website more credibility, and can even help with SEO purposes.

Wrapping it up

Well-designed web-based reports are perfect for donor retention. Exciting, interactive, and visually appealing, they are a great way to spread awareness, show impact, and inspire action.

Ready to create your first report for free? Get started with Yearly’s free trial!