By Alan Sharpe, CFRE
If your charity is at all typical, you will lose 65% of the donors you acquire by direct mail in the first year alone.
In other words, only 35% of the donors you acquire through direct mail will give you a second gift. Most donors acquired through the mail are acquired at a net loss (you must spend money to acquire each donor), so you can see how important it is for you to do all that you can to encourage first-time donors to give again.
Here are the main reasons new donors do not give a second gift:
1. You acquire the wrong kind of donor
Donors acquired with premiums, trinkets and lotteries tend to fall away at a higher rate than donors acquired with a simple ask.
2. You ignore them
If you do not thank your new donors soon enough, or tell them what you are doing with their gift, or welcome them to your organization, they will not likely mail you a second gift.
3. You write them too often
If all you do with new donors is add them to your mailing list and then bombard them with an appeal letter each month, you will likely lose them.
4. You do not ask again soon enough
The key to securing a second gift is to ask early and ask often. Your enemy is the calendar. For every week that elapses after you have received the donor’s first gift, and where you do not ask for a second gift, your chances of losing your newly acquired donor increase. The worst thing you can do is delay four, five, six months or longer before going back to your new donor for a second gift. By that time, many will have forgotten that they even made the first gift.
To increase your percentage of new donors who go on to give a second gift, do four things:
1. Thank them promptly, personally and particularly for their first gift.
2. Send them a welcome kit. Tell them why they are a valuable part of your organization. Include anything in the welcome kit (brochure, newsletter, welcome letter, FAQs, testimonials) that draws donors closer to your mission and the people you help.
3. Show them how you are using their gift to change the world. You can do this most effectively with a donor-centred newsletter filled with pictures and stories that show donor dollars at work.
4. Ask for a second gift within eight weeks of receiving the first gift. The single largest factor in determining if you receive a second gift is how long you wait before asking for it. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to secure that all-important second donation.