Welcome Back!

You’ll recall that a speedy second gift is an important part of building relationships with your fresh new donors. It also indicates that you have done a good job in conveying your mission and your case for giving.

To craft our second gift strategy, let’s go back and think about why donors give in the first place. There are a variety of reasons that could include:

  • funding research for a cure for disease
  • supporting a co-worker’s upcoming triathlon
  • paying tribute to someone who passed on
  • affecting change in their community by supporting a political candidate

But I believe people give for two reasons only:

  1. People give to experience JOY
  2. People give out of a sense of obligation

It’s important to separate the two because those who give out of obligation (we’ll call them, “obligationers,” are not likely to make a second gift (unless we’re talking about tithing).

“Once a donor donates the second time, we have moved beyond impulse giving… They are now truly supporting your mission by consciously choosing to provide funds.

– Jaye Love

The obligation crowd (honor/memorial, and peer to peer) are NOT likely to make a second gift so put those folks aside and focus on the JOYFUL crowd (aka: mission-based donors.)

I repeat: Do NOT spend your time on the obligationers – (this goes for some Premium-seekers and event attendees too.) Use social media and brand raising for the eventual few who might come around at some point to becoming a JOYFUL giver.

Joyful givers are searching for meaning in their lives and being a partner in your mission fulfills that need. If you’re a good partner (i.e., practicing meaningful, personal cultivation) then they will continue to give over the long haul.

The actions you take at the beginning of your relationship will have a major impact on the number of donors who will become longtime partners, their lifetime value, and the overall retention and health of your file.

With that in mind, let’s look at ways to attract, inspire, and move an individual to become a loyal, long-time giver to your organization.

Start with Acquisition Creative

Pretend for a few minutes that you are your donor.

Step 1: Grab your latest control package and mix it in with a pile of the daily mail. (Reviewing a pdf of the package while sitting at your desk will void this entire exercise so don’t do it.)

Step 2: Stand over your kitchen trash can and sort through the mail pile.

Step 3: When you come upon your control package, as objectively as possible, ask yourself the following questions as you review the package:

  • Does it stand out and grab your attention? If so, why?
  • Are you going to open it right then and there or is it going to the ‘save for later’ pile?

If you (as the donor) do decide to open it, review the contents:

  • Have you clearly outlined what it is that your organization does?
  • Have you clearly outlined why it is that additional support is needed?
  • Have you made your prospective donor feel that by supporting your org, they will become part of a community of like-minded individuals (guys, this part is SO important!!! We humans are wired for connection so make sure you’re filling that need!)
  • Have you included a letter that tells a story that includes strong emotional connection to your work?
  • Is your case for giving strong enough to support more than a single gift?
  • Is it crystal clear how the donor’s gift will be used?
  • Is the tone of the letter personal, impassioned, and welcoming?

Notice your reactions to each question. Write down any observations you have so you’ll remember to discuss areas for improvement with your team.

Hopefully, your control package has you reaching for your checkbook to join this amazing organization ASAP. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got some work to do.

Next: Acquisition Audience

Make sure you have a solid mix of niche lists and models that will target your best potential prospects. We are finding the models are bring in higher dollar givers on acquisition and we have preliminary research that shows a high correlation between high inception amount and LTV. We’ll drill deeper into that research in a future post. For now, I think we can agree that people who give more tend to be better donors which is not exactly breaking news…

It’s also important to review your acquisition results by list and be on the lookout for lists that yield the most second givers. If you can track how quickly they made that second gift, that’s even better but be sure you’ve got that list of 2x-giver lists handy when planning your next acquisition. That extra data point will boost your success.

Post-Acquisition: The Fortune is in the Follow UP!

First 10 days – Unless you’re able to process printed acknowledgments in a timely (less than 3 weeks) manner, get a voice broadcast message out to your donors letting them know you received their gift, you’re so grateful, and a formal ack is on the way.

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Imagine you’re 70+ years old, you’ve mailed in a check to your favorite org and you’re regularly hearing about issues with the USPS so you’re likely VERY concerned that your gift arrived safely. A quick call will put their minds at ease and give you one more reason to touch base with them.

Welcome Series – if you don’t have one, start putting one together. Many NPO’s will not survive the coming recession. The ones that do, will have made the effort to invest in their donors. Follow our simple 3-step formula for strengthening the relationship:

  • Acknowledgment (as quickly as possible!) — This should be a warm and hearty welcome to our community of like-minded folks! Reinforce the fact that their decision to make a gift was a wise one!
  • Impact Report and Request for Input – Include a call-to-action like a request for email address, survey (keep it light-hearted and recreate that JOYful feeling from the acquisition, and even include a freemium – decals are best for brand raising here).
  • Invite Donors to become Sustainers – The best time to invite donors to become sustainers is at the beginning of the relationship so get in there while you can!

Finally: Regular Cultivation through your Appeal Series

Reframe your “Ways to Give” mindset into “Ways to Support” as this expands the scope to include nonmonetary ways that your donors can be a partner to your organization. You’ll score points with the donors and attract individuals who have greater devotion to your mission. And remember, the onus is on you, the non-profit to be regularly reminding donors of their options. Don’t assume they know what to do!

In your list, be sure to include

  • Planned giving
  • Donor-Advised Funds
  • Vehicle donation
  • Advocacy brigade
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Social media follow/share
  • Tell A Friend
  • Surveys – donor engagement
  • Employer Matching Gifts
  • Virtual events

Find creative ways to make these stand out in your direct mail and you’ll continue to bolster support of your program while stewarding VIPs who will invest in your organization for years to come! The actions you take in the first 90 days of your relationship can make all the difference for donors’ LTV so focus your efforts there and you’ll see healthy returns for years to come.