Many of you are immersed in your year-end appeal, but if you think you can rest easy once the letters have gone out, think again. Your work has just begun.
In fact, what comes next is even more important, especially if you want to to keep your donors for a long time.
Do a good job of thanking your donors
I write a lot about the importance of thanking your donors, but I think this bears repeating. Your first step after you receive a donation is to thank your donors within 48 hours, preferably with a handwritten note or phone call. Don’t send the same old boring, generic thank you letter. Take time to create an awesome thank you. Say Thank You Like You Mean It
Create a welcome plan for your new donors
Approximately 70% of first-time donors don’t make a second gift. This is unacceptable. We have to do better.
Research by fundraising expert Penelope Burk states that first-time donors who receive a thank you call are more likely to donate again and give at a higher level the next year. Get a group of board members and other enthusiastic volunteers to call your new donors, or send them a handwritten thank you card.
*Make sure these are actually new donors. A good database will help you avoid any embarrassment.*
A week or two after the initial thank you, send a welcome package. You can do this by mail, email, or a combination of both.
Welcome your new donors. Thank them again and show them other ways they can connect with you. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter and join you on social media.
Your welcome package can include a warm introductory message and a brochure or fact sheet. Get to know your new donors better. Pop in a short survey to find out how they heard about you and if they prefer print or electronic communication. You could also direct people to your website for more information about your organization.
Be careful about how much information you send. Donors want to feel welcome not overwhelmed.
I don’t recommend sending unsolicited swag. 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’re helping you make a difference.
Make your current donors feel special, too
You may think your most valuable donors are the ones who give the most money, but what about the people who have supported your organization for three, five, or even ten years? These are your valuable donors, considering repeat donor retention rates are about 65%.
Imagine how you would feel if you gave to an organization for over five years and they never acknowledge your long-time support.
This is why segmenting your donors and personalizing their correspondence is crucial, so is a good database to help you with this. Let’s Stop Putting Donors Into A Bucket Your donors are individuals and not a collective bunch.
Don’t skimp on donor communication
I know you’re swamped with your year-end appeal right now, but this is not the time to scale back on your donor communication. Continue to send your newsletter and other updates. Keep them donor-centered.
Send your donors Thanksgiving and holiday greetings, either by mail or email. Intersperse your fundraising appeals with messages in which you’re not asking for donations.
Keep spreading the love
Your first New Year’s resolution can be to communicate with your donors more. Keep reaching out to them – at least once or twice a month. Show appreciation and update them on your success.
Think of other ways to do something special for your donors, such as offering tours of your facility or holding an open house.
You want to keep your donors for a long time and making them feel good about supporting your organization will help with this.