Are you welcoming your new donors well?
If you’ve been busy fundraising this year, you may have found what many have: donors are being generous. They’re responding to emergency campaigns. They want to do something… and those organizations that provide something good to do are benefitting.
So you may have attracted a group of new-to-you donors. I hope so!
But keep in mind that new donors need special care to become your donors. (Or, as Mark Phillips says, for your organization to become their charity!)
Thanks that are warm enough to remember
For a reason you may not be able to pinpoint, someone you didn’t know before sent a gift. Donors donate. Chances are good your new donor has other causes she cares about as well.
So your job is to stand out. And the best way to do that is to create a thank you that she’ll remember.
How? Make it personal – one person to one person. Please, not on behalf of the board or anyone else.
Make it conversational, not “professional”. Use casual language that will feel like you are speaking with the donor.
Focus on her, not your organization. This is about a gift. Don’t pat yourself on the back – DO pat your donor on the back. You don’t have to roll out the hard sell to “prove” your worth. She’s already taken the first step!
Do be grateful. Sincerely. I understand that sometimes gratitude – effusive, emotional, full of heart gratitude – feels awkward when you’re writing to someone you don’t know. Remember thinking about a donor persona when you put together an appeal? Pull it out again. Picture your donor as a person, not an idea. Feel grateful. Then say it.
Keep the door open for more communication. Let your donor know how to reach you if she has any questions. Most will never take you up on it. Those that do should be marked in your database. They really care!
Your thank you is the first and most important way to welcome new donors. Make a lasting impression.
A warm welcome
Don’t imply a welcome – go ahead and say it: welcome new donor!
This can be a mail pack (you can prepare this in advance, ready to go) or part of an email series. Include your latest newsletter. Think about ways that also say, “you’re now part of the family”. Even sending something as small as a window sticker to display can help your donor feel part of something big. Reciprocation is a strong trigger!
Updates about how her gift is helping
When you first give to a new organization, you’re stepping into the unknown. So help your donor feel comfortable. Welcome your new donor and let her know what has happened or is happening because she gave.
You don’t need to go into great detail here. But do match your report to what you asked for. This helps your new donor feel trust. And it also underlines that you don’t see her as a generic donor, but as an individual.
This update can come via an email or if the timing is right a donor newsletter. And it doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. Keep letting this new donor see that what she hoped would happen is indeed happening.
An opportunity to share more about herself
Two-way communication is a great goal if you want to keep donors around. So find ways to invite donors to share with you. What moved her to give? What is most important to her? Be sure she knows how to reach you – and make her feel welcome to do that!
Also… ask about simple things like how she prefers to be addressed. Showing you care to get it right matters.
A good raise your hand moment
Far too many first-time donors never give to the organization again. Retention rates for first-time givers are really low. But we know that involving someone soon after their gift (see all above) is important.
One way to do that is to build a small request into your welcome communications. Asking a new donor to take a small action can help build the relationship. Sign a petition. Share on social media. Pass a postcard along to a friend.
Or you can simply ask them to provide more information. Email donor? Ask for their mailing address.
A chance to give again
All the communication we’ve covered already helps keep your organization front of mind. That’s important, because there’s no reason your organization – a new cause for your donor – should occupy that space unless you work at it.
The real moment of truth though is when that first-time donor makes her second gift.
Leave it too long and you risk being forgotten. You probably have about two months. Maybe a little more if you’ve kept a steady communication stream going.
But don’t retire these new donors, or “rest” them.
Give them the chance to give again. You can do this gently. There’s no reason for a hard sell. But do it.
If it helps, remember that giving feels good. Donors give because it makes them feel good. Good about themselves (“I’m a nice person”) and good about your cause. Don’t cheat them!
Build yourself a system
I know this all sounds like a lot. But you can easily build this into an email series. Or a mail series. Have most of it ready to go, then add a personalized cover letter.
Building a strong individual donor base is definitely work. But it will leave you in a stronger position than constantly trying to acquire new donors, only to watch them walk back out your door. And it’s insulation against the draft we may be seeing from corporate and even foundation donors if the economy doesn’t rebound quickly.
If you want to build good donor relationships, you have to commit to the relationship, too.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash