Get Past the First Date With Donors
It was a great first date. Your messages were spot-on; he was interested in what you had to say; there was an immediate connection. You're off to a great start. Now what?
Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes struggle with retaining first-time donors. The first step — getting them in the door — is a big one, but all that effort will be for naught if you can't take the relationship to the next level.
Disaster fundraising: a case in point
Fundraising efforts in response to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile have made donor retention a particularly hot topic of late. The urgency, immediacy and terrible human cost of a natural disaster are very effective at inspiring people to give. American donors have given millions and millions of dollars in the past months to support recovery in Haiti and Chile. The trick is to keep those donors — most of whom probably contribute to disaster relief when need is greatest rather than on an ongoing basis — engaged and inspired beyond the immediate crisis.
The American Red Cross' disaster fundraising and donor cultivation program is a great example for any nonprofit thinking about how to keep first-time donors on board.
My first date with the Red Cross
I made my first-ever donation to the Red Cross a few days after the Haiti earthquake. Knowing about the potential for delays acquiring mobile funds, I chose to make it online. The Red Cross' thank-you message, which arrived a few days later, spoke to the specific impact of my gift — from providing blankets to funding disaster response experts — to help me, the donor, feel that I'd made a difference. About a week later, a follow-up "Response Update" from the president and CEO of the Red Cross invited me to watch a slideshow of the relief efforts and share images with my friends.