We all know that new donors are the most expensive to acquire. We also know that getting that first time donor to give again is difficult! With one-time donors hovering around 60%, nonprofits are leaving a lot of time and money on the table. Adrian Sargeant says “a 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200%.”
So how can you move that first time donor to a second time donor? And then move that second time donor to a loyal donor?
Here are some of the basic and not-so-basic strategies:
- Thank your donors promptly. How quickly does your donor get a thank you letter from your organization? If it’s more than two weeks, you need new procedures. And don’t forget the handwritten note at the bottom of that letter.
- Personalize your touches. You can segment your donor list based on being a first time donor. How can you make that first time donor feel special? Fundraiser Penelope Burk showed that a thank you call to a newly acquired donor yields 40% more revenue in year 2. Not only is a phone call a great way to thank the donor, you can also use the call to find out more about them – what led them to make the gift? how would they like to be communicated with? It may even help you to identify major donor prospects.
- Stewardship plans are a must. The next time a donor hears from you shouldn’t be for an ask 12 months later. You must build a relationship with them. Share stories about the impact of their gifts. Invite them for a site visit. Here’s one of my favorite tips: Don’t send a holiday card (your donors’ mailboxes will be full with these). Instead, send a Thanksgiving day card. We are nothing without our donors. Tell them on this important holiday that you are thankful for them!
- Once is never enough. You can never thank your donors enough. Can you utilize your board members and volunteers to conduct a Thank-A-Thon? It’s a wonderful way to engage your board members in the stewardship process.
It’s critical to remember that you are helping donors fulfill their passions. Giving is a joyful act. So be sure you acknowledge their generosity in a way that reflects that joyfulness.