Five Things You Must Do to Ensure a Second Gift
Even in a “healthy” fundraising program, only 30 percent of newly acquired donors give again after their original gift! What can you do to keep more of your new donors interested in your cause and eager to support you again and again?
You have a critical window of opportunity to motivate donors to give a second gift — usually within three months of their first gifts. As more time passes, it’s less and less likely that new donors will give again. But if they do, they’re much more likely to turn into generous, loyal supporters.
Here are five essential things you must do to ensure that second gift:
1. Prompt and thoughtful thank-you letters.
These are by far the most important “must do.”
* Send thank-you notes for all first gifts, no matter how small.
* Ideally, send out acknowledgements within one week of receiving a new donor’s gift. Responding quickly shows the donor that you really care. You want to thank her while the act of giving and the strong feelings associated with it are still fresh in her mind.
* Personalize the thank-you letter, and reference the exact gift amount; when you received it; and the campaign that the donor responded to, if possible.
* Write a thank-you letter specifically for new donors — don’t use the standard acknowledgement sent to existing donors. Welcome them to your organization! Focus on how the gift is so much more than a monetary transaction funding a cause.
* Inform the donor what your organization already is doing with the money. Donors want to feel assured that their gift is having a direct, immediate impact.
* Reinforce the approach of the original acquisition touch point. Something magical happened during that experience that motivated the donor to give. Try to re-create that experience within the acknowledgement: The message should be consistent with the original appeal message, and the thank-you signer should match the appeal signer.
* Provide donors with the opportunity to make another gift by enclosing a reply slip and return envelope.
* Use a live signature to make the letter more personal. If your volume is too high to make this practical (a good problem to have!), then use a preprinted or lasered signature.
* Have your organization’s leader include handwritten notes, especially for larger gifts. This personal touch makes the donor feel special.
* Include contact information for a donor-services person so new donors feel they can call a real person with any questions.
* Call donors who give over a certain dollar level ($50+, $100+, for example) to personally thank them for their generous gifts. This also is an opportunity to ask questions, introduce donors to monthly giving and propose a second gift.
2. New-donor welcome kits.
A new-donor welcome kit is an excellent way to recognize the donor’s status as a new and much appreciated friend. It can include the thank-you letter described above — as long as you send it out quickly!
Other components may include a brochure about your programs or your latest newsletter. Add a small token of appreciation that represents the new relationship — like a membership or supporter card, a decal, a magnet, a bookmark, a charm or a key chain. This package should feature a soft ask — a subtle appeal for additional support in the letter, plus a reply card and return envelope.
You can send online donors an online new-donor welcome kit with a letter, brochure and links to more in-depth information on your Web site, as well as a video message or podcasts.
3. Second gift appeal.
Create a special appeal designed to get new donors to repeat their original gift amount. This appeal should be sent to new donors after their prompt acknowledgement but before their first regular appeal.
Consider using First Class postage, a closed-face outer envelope and a preprinted note card with a live, handwritten note referencing the first gift and asking the donor to give the same amount again. Target new donors who’ve given above a certain level, such as $50+, depending on your budget.
To simplify the process, use your acknowledgement data file for this appeal. Schedule this appeal to mail within two weeks of the acknowledgement.
4. Offer your strongest renewal appeals first.
When new donors move into your regular renewal cycle, present them with your strongest renewal offers first to encourage that second gift. Early matching-gift opportunities, and newsletters (with an appeal letter) with important proof of stewardship are both excellent ways to engage new donors and get them to give again.
5. New-donor first-year anniversary campaign.
Your best chance to positively influence new-donor retention rates is during their first two months to 10 months in your program. However, you also can improve new-donor retention by influencing donor behavior around the time of their first-gift “anniversary” — between 10 months and 13 months from their original gift date.
Contact one-time donors as they approach the anniversary of their first gift. In an effort to re-create the motivation behind the initial gift, tell donors that they’re now at the time when they gave before and urge them to give again at this same time one year later. Target donors who give above a certain level, if you have budget limitations.
For donors who have given $50+, with available telephone numbers, call them, or send a prerecorded thank-you voice message that reminds them of their upcoming anniversary.
By implementing these new-donor conversion strategies, especially prompt and personal thank-you letters, you’ll keep more of your new donors on board!
Lynn Edmonds is president of L.W. Robbins Associates. You can reach her at email@example.com.