As your year-end donations come in, you may notice you have some new donors. Don’t jump for joy yet, the likelihood these donors will stick with you continues to drop.
You’ve focused a lot of time and energy on acquiring your new donors. Now you need to work on keeping them for a long time.
Start with a special thank you
By now you should know the importance of thanking your donors as soon as possible and doing a good job of thanking them.
If someone donates online, it’s hard to tailor the thank you email specifically to new donors. But you can do that with a phone call, handwritten note, or thank you letter.
Try to call your new donors or send a handwritten note. This will make a great impression on them. Get together a group of board members, other volunteers, and staff for a thankathon.
*Make sure these are actually new donors. A good database will help you avoid any snafus.*
Create a welcome plan
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, join you on social media, and volunteer.
Your welcome package should include a warm introductory message and a few facts about your organization, but don’t brag too much. Keep it donor-centered. 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.
Who are your new donors?
They could be event attendees, volunteers, or newsletter subscribers. If you know, refer to that in your thank you note or phone call. If not, send a short survey with your welcome package and ask, “How did you hear about us?”
Another question to ask is whether your donors prefer print or electronic communication. Short surveys are also a good way to connect throughout the year. The more you know about your donors the easier it will be to communicate with them.
Make your current donors feel special, too
While I’ve been focusing on new donors in this post, retention rates for current donors are also declining. The biggest hurdle is getting from the first to the second gift, but don’t rest easy after that.
If you’re not acknowledging a donor’s past support, you’re making a huge mistake. Imagine how you would feel if you gave to an organization for over five years and they never thank you for your long-time support.
These valuable, long-term donors could leave at any time, so ignore them at your own peril. Make sure they get a special thank you from you.
Keep it up
You should also know you need to communicate with your donors regularly. Plan on special mailings or emails specifically targeted to new donors. Try to send something by mail if you can. It’s more personal and your donors are more likely to see it.
Think of other ways to do something special for your new donors too, such as offering tours of your facility or holding an open house.
Of course, don’t ignore your other donors. Keep reaching out – at least once or twice a month. Show appreciation and update them on your success.
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 many years.