New donors are challenging and expensive to find. It’s painful. There’s just no way around it. Hopefully, you invested in acquiring new donors last year and saw good fruit from your efforts.
New donors are the most fragile of all your donor segments. If you don’t work at it, they give a first gift and disappear.
So how do you get that all important second gift? How do you hang on to that new donor?
Without question, the most critical component in building a relationship with a new donor is centered in how you responded to their first gift. Did you acknowledge their gift, thank them and validate their gift promptly?
Promptly in my world is 48 to 72 hours. Yep, 2 to 3 days. The gold standard is 24 hours. Delay past 72 hours at your peril. (And remember the risk is that you invested all that money and effort acquiring a first-time donor, and they never give a second gift).
Acknowledging and thanking are easy. Everyone does that. But are you validating the donor’s gift and decision?That’s a component of the donor-focused strategies outlined in Donoricity. The mistake many good organizations make is they respond quickly, but they do it vaguely and with lots of organization-centric language.
It sounds like this:
“Thank you for your gift to support our efforts to save the whale.”
“Thank you for your donation to our annual fund.”
“Thank you for your generous gift in December.”
All about “you” and not much about how the donor made a difference.
Another easy mistake to make is concentrating on the “thank you” and forgetting that donors don’t give to be thanked. They have given for a specific reason. Usually in response to a specific ask. You asked, they responded. You absolutely have to respond with something that validates their decision. You must feed back to them that they made an impact with their gift. It’s not about what your organization is doing. It’s what the donor did…and what they have the opportunity to do again. Be specific and concrete in your language.
OK, if you’re reading my blog or you’ve read the book, you’re doing this right.
What else can you do to get that second gift?
Here’s what I’ve seen make a difference:
Are you sure you have their name(s) and address right? Nothing says I don’t know or care about you more than sloppy data entry. First gifts usually require more human contact with data than an existing donor’s gift. Do the folks doing data entry for you know how precious new donors are? Do they have good business rules for new donors?
Are you connecting with a new donor with a newsletter or bonding piece about the work you do? Sometimes it makes sense to have a “Welcome Series.” Other times it’s simple bonding messaging in the next newsletter. Don’t forget. It’s shocking how little a new donor understands about you and your cause. Make sure they have an opportunity to know more about the problem you’re solving in the world and how they can help. Are you telling stories about the difference their gifts can make? Another excellent bonding tool is offering a tour or a volunteer opportunity.
Are you asking them to help (give) again? After your new donor has been validated and has had the opportunity to know more, ask them again. Don’t chicken out. If you’ve done the validating and bonding right, it’s time to ask again. Donors don’t mind you asking if you do ask right.
Don’t waste those precious donor acquisition efforts by mistreating your new donors. It’s not easy to get that second gift, but you can do it with some careful choices. It’s worth it. You’ll be delighted by how new donors respond to these strategies.
What do you do to encourage new donors? What’s your bonding strategy? I do enjoy hearing what you’re thinking. Here’s how that works: just email me at sthomas AT wizardofads DOT com. That’ll reach me.
And if you’d like to sign up for blog and newsletter updates via email, just click this link and sign up. To keep those over-eager junk filters from grabbing my emails, add sthomas AT Oneicity DOT com to your contacts, address book or whitelist (whatever is appropriate).