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How to get a second gift from new donors

Only two in 10 new donors to an average non-profit will make a second donation, which is why it’s vital to secure a second donation.Joe Garecht reports.

Did you know that the second gift you get from a new donor is almost as important as the first?
Seriously – in large part, it is the second gift that determines whether or not this new donor will become a lifelong giver to your non-profit, or remain just a one-time donor.

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2016 Survey, only 19% of new donors to non-profits give again after their first gift. That number is shockingly low. However, once a new donor gives a second time, 63% will give again.

Let that sink in. Only two in 10 new donors to an average non-profit will give a second time. But of those who make a second gift, six in 10 will make a third gift. What does that tell you?

Besides the fact that we, as an industry, need to get our retention rates for first time givers up past 22.9%, it tells me that one of the most important things you can do at your non-profit is steward your new donors into making a second gift, because once they do, it is likely that they will continue to give again and again and again.

So... how do you get new donors to give again? Here’s my four-step new donor stewardship process:

Step 1: Thank new donors properly

The first step in properly stewarding your donors and moving them to make a second
gift is to thank them properly. In our most recent Fundraising Authority podcast, Claire Axelrad gave some great tips on how to do this. These tips included getting your thank you letters out within 24 hours, making the thank you letter donor-centered instead of organisation-centered, and adding in a thank you phone call whenever possible.

You should also consider sending your new donors a welcome kit that includes more information about your organisation, a point person they can contact with questions, and things like bumper stickers and refrigerator
magnets that reinforce the relationship. Saying “thank you” the right way is the first step of great donor stewardship.

Step 2: Stay top of mind

After you thank your donors, it is imperative that you stay top of mind for them. This means that you need to communicate with them, on a regular basis, to make sure that they are thinking about you and know that you are thinking about them.

Newsletters (direct mail or e-mail), postcards, annual reports, cultivation events, and holiday greeting cards are all ways you can communicate with your donors to build an even stronger relationship. For larger donors, you can also do one-on-one or group calls as well as in-person meetings and small group events.

Step 3: Ask for non-financial involvement

One of the best ways to make your donors feel like more than just a donor is to ask them to get involved in ways that go beyond simply writing a cheque. During your stewardship process, take the time to ask your donors for their non-financial involvement.

For larger donors, this can include serving on advisory committees or informal working groups. Where appropriate, you can ask all of your donors to volunteer for your organisation, or take direct action like participating in letter-writing campaigns. Likewise, you can send out surveys and questionnaires to your donors to ask them for their thoughts and advice.

If a donor takes the second step of volunteering or getting involved in some other non-financial way, they are far more likely to make the second gift.

Step 4: Ask for a gift

Finally, ask for the second gift. Believe it or not, this is where many non-profits fail. They may have called the donor to make the first ask, but after building the relationship using steps one through three, they simply assume the donor will make the second gift by way of an annual appeal letter or by clicking “donate now” on the organisation’s website.

Don’t make this mistake. If you want a donor to make a second gift to your non-profit, you have to ask. For many organisations, this means picking up the phone (or setting up a meeting) to do a real, honest to goodness fundraising ask. Don’t worry – if the donor gave the first time and you followed these four steps, it is highly likely they will want to give again.    

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