Focus On: Upgrading Donors: Be Persistent, Not Pushy
I repeat: Upgrading is an attitude. A way of life. You have to make it happen.
We can divide the upgrading process into two main categories: new donors and multiple-gift donors.
Let’s begin with new donors and examine the Second Gift Strategy.
Please don’t burst into tears when you learn — or remember from your own bitter experience — that if your prospect package brings in 100 donors, 50 of them will never send a second gift. (Work out the math for yourself if you don’t believe me.)
But the attrition might be even worse if you don’t do one or more of many things to get both a second gift, and a larger gift, as soon as possible. For example:
1. Thank-you letters: Rush a “thank you” letter to a new donor immediately upon receipt of a gift. Don’t wait 90 days ... or even 30 days. Figure out how to do it. If the people in the mailroom and data processing say it can’t be done, then give them all two weeks notice and hire a “can do” staff.
Remember, when a donor sends a gift, it’s much like buying merchandise. Folks these days expect a practically overnight response. Why should your “thank you” letter be any slower?
Speed in replying to a new donor is so important because the individual who has sent you a gift is not going to remain focused on the excitement of writing a check and mailing it to you indefinitely. In fact, probably no more than about 60 seconds. So you need to immediately show your appreciation by getting something into his hands and making him think about you again.
And, yes, suggest gift amounts higher than the initial gift.
2. Response premium: If you’re sending a token of appreciation to a new donor, send a reply form and a reply envelope too, along with a note suggesting another gift. And since that letter probably won’t be personalized, put in some brackets that go from low to high. Get bold: Say, “Perhaps you can double the amount of the gift you recently gave.”