The Second Gift: Turning Donor Impulse Into a Conscience Choice
We celebrate acquiring new donors. We track efforts to turn one-time donors into recurring donors. We create winback strategies for lapsed donors. We analyze email engagement, speculate about the reason people stop giving, and try different ways to ask for the next donation.
In all of these discussions, one topic often overlooked is securing the second gift.
“Once a donor donates a second time, we have moved beyond impulse giving …,” Jay Love of Bloomerang said. “They are now truly supporting your mission by consciously choosing to provide funds.”
Data shows that around two in 10 first-time donors make a second gift to the same organization. This is a huge dropoff considering that more than 60% of donors who make a second gift are likely to make a third donation.
So the question isn’t “Should you ask for a second donation?” but “How do you ask for the second donation?”
Riding the High
The first 90 days after a person makes their donation are critical in securing the second gift. A person has just made a contribution and is excited that they’re helping a mission that they’ve connected with.
As humans, we love to be thanked. We love to see ourselves as the hero. We love to be part of the solution. So it seems like a no-brainer to provide an opportunity to be a bigger part of the solution in your thank-you messages.
“If you do it right, you thank the donor every time you send them an appeal for their gifts, Erica Waasdrop said. “You tell them the impact this gift has made and then say, ‘but let me tell you another story, this is why we need your help again’”
If it was a no brainer, wouldn’t the conversion rate from first gift to second gift be more than 20%?
Are We Phoning in Our Thank-You Messages?
Personally, I give to several causes and throughout my career have worked with many nonprofits. Through these experiences I’ve seen several trends and have had many conversations about post-gift engagement.
While this is not incredibly scientific, looking back at my recent donations, I received two emails, on average, after I gave. This usually includes a receipt and a thank-you email that shares a story and a message, saying something to the effect of, “You’re part of the team.” I have not been able to find a thank-you thread that asks for a second gift within the first 30 days of my first donation. Any personalized references to my previous gifts usually come about 10 to 12 months after my initial gift.
My professional experience with nonprofits where I usually walk into a similar situation makes me think about why asking for additional support right away is not a no-brainer regardless of the stats. Upon reflection, I’ve come to the belief that this is for various reasons, including the separation of development teams and marketing teams, the underutilization of technology, and the overall fear of seeming too needy and not gracious enough.
What If We Prioritize Thanking Donors?
Nonprofits operate in a world of gratitude. At the same time, there is such an emphasis on asking for gifts that the thank-you message gets lost or deprioritized for everyday donors.
What if organizations were more integrated? What if they could provide the gratitude given to major donors to everyday donors? What if the thank-you message was as important as the “can you” message?
Data shows these are more than what-if statements. They are what it takes to grow efficiently and effectively. Reports indicate that donations are not projected to grow this year, so it’s important to do everything possible to better engage audiences and grow their support.
It’s important to dig into your technology stack. Understand it. Use it to the fullest. To think about creating personalized experiences at scale across your digital ecosystem. To connect and engage with your audiences where they are. It’s important to take a second and look at the data. Look at the digital landscape. Look at donors and what their actions are telling you.
Create a Thank-You Culture
We’re halfway through the year, and I want to challenge all nonprofits to create a thank-you culture across their ecosystems this year. .
This doesn’t mean you have to buy new tech or hire a bunch of new people. It means focusing on how to thank your community, as well as how to show donors their impact and celebrate their contributions. It means encouraging them to make a bigger impact and illustrating what that would mean to your cause and the world as a whole.
There’s not one way to do this, but many ways. You can create personalized impact pages or report cards. You can run a targeted ad campaign that thanks donors and asks them to continue to support your work. You can extend your marketing automation sequences or publicly engage with supporters on social media. You can list them in your annual report. The list goes on and on.
I’m not challenging you to spend a lot of money, but to utilize the tools commonly available to create a culture of support and celebration that you’d want to support. Let’s make giving more valuable by doing more than just saying “thank you” in an automated email, but really showing donors gratitude.
The preceding blog was provided by an individual unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.
Related story: Lifetime Value Starts With the Second Gift
Joe Frye is the account group director for nonprofit and cause at Town Hall Agency. He has spent more than a decade helping organizations make an impact and connect their missions with individuals. He has led award-winning projects and campaigns for organizations including PBS, Partners of the Americas, the Identity Theft Resource Center, Showtime Networks, Duke University, UNESCO and many others.
Joe's experience at the intersection of technology, data and creativity provide a unique perspective that allows organizations to create impactful digital ecosystems, increase donations, grow membership, improve member retention and increase overall revenue.