Make Your New Donors Feel Welcome

Did you know that approximately 75% of first time donors don’t make a second gift?  Yikes! 

Donor retention rates have plunged over the last couple of years, but let’s make 2013 the year we turn those numbers around.

Step 1 – Do something special for your current first time donors before you send out your annual appeal.  

You could send them a short thank you email, postcard, or note card in which you shower them with appreciation and give a specific example of how their support is helping you make difference.

Of course, you should continue to stay connected to all your supporters by showing gratitude and sharing accomplishments.

Step 2 – In my last post, I wrote about personalizing your annual appeal letters for different types of donors.  Thank your first time donors for their previous gift, let them know how much you appreciate them, and show them how they are part of your success.

Step 3 – A huge factor in donor retention is a good donor relations plan that you will carry out regularly as long as your donors support you, which hopefully will be for a long time.

Here is what you can do for your new donors.

Create a welcome plan
Welcome your new donors. Say thank you and show them other ways they can connect with you. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter and join you on social media.

Some organizations mail out welcome packages. This can include a warm introductory letter and a brochure or fact sheet, as well as guiding new donors to your website for more information about your organization.

Be careful about how much information you send out.  Donors want to feel welcome not overwhelmed.

I don’t recommend sending unsolicited swag such as Address Labels, Blankets, Calendars Instead, you could offer your new donors a gift and they can let you know if they want to receive it, but it’s not necessary. 

What donors really want from you is to know how they are helping you make a difference.

Phone calls matter
According to fundraising expert Roger Craver, thank you calls increase retention rates for first time donors by 25%. You should make thank you calls to all your donors, but if that’s impossible, one of your priorities should be calling your new donors.

Get a group of board members and other enthusiastic volunteers to do this.  Leaving a message is fine, but if you do get someone on the line, ask her what drew her to your organization.

Remember to thank your donors within 48 hours.

Who are your new donors?
They could be event attendees, volunteers, or newsletter subscribers.  If you know, make a reference to that in your thank you letter. If not, send a short survey and ask “How did you hear about us?”  Surveys are also a good way to connect throughout the year.

Keep spreading the love
Keep reaching out your donors – at least once or twice a month.  Show appreciation and update them on your success. 

Also, think of ways to do something else special for your new donors. You could offer tours of your facility or hold an open house.

Let’s hope next year at this time the donor retention rates won’t be so dismal.


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