Fundraising Tip #4: Call to Say Thank You! to First-Time Donors

It’s commonly said that organizations need a plan for thanking donors at least 3 times for every 1 gift. Oftentimes, how and when you thank them is even more important than how often. Think quality, over quantity.

It's important that every first-time donor gets a phone call from somebody with the organization (employee, volunteer, client, etc.) in a timely fashion (within a week, preferably sooner).

What should you say? Keep it simple. Let the donor know that you (1) noticed it was their first gift, and (2) you are grateful. Thank them for their support and their trust. If the donor opens the door to talk about how/why they came to you, walk through it, but otherwise, keep the call very one-sided. You are calling them, to say "Thank you".

If they don't answer, leave them a voicemail and follow up with a letter or postcard like this one from the University of Houston.

Thank you2If you know how they came to donate to your organization, or they are a "hot prospect" perhaps you want to schedule an in person meeting to learn more about their interests or invite them to an upcoming event, but make sure the focus of the call is thanking them for THIS gift, not teeing them up of the NEXT one. Sophisticated donors can see right through that, and ultimately, it has you focused on the wrong thing. Be truly grateful for the donation, not greedy for the next one!

Ultimately, you want to have a series of things you do to treat your new donors differently. The Red Cross gives out stickers like this one.1sr Donor-1This sticker isn't just about the donor patting themselves on the back, but also, and perhaps more importantly, so that employees and volunteers will treat them differently. What are you doing to set your new donors apart?

Hopefully your database has a way to put this information front and center for you, but if not, talk to your team (employees or volunteers) and make sure everybody knows how important this information is. Then, set aside time at each of your meetings to talk about your NEW donors. Give names, brief bios (what you know about them), and (if the donor opened the door) why they made their gift. 

Making this a part of your regular routine will keep you and your team fired up about the great work you are doing, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how fired up your new donors can become about your work.

If you are launching a campaign that you expect to generate more new donors than you think you can handle personally, put together a plan, recruit a team to help you, and THEN launch your program. 

If you haven't had a new donor in a while or would like to ramp up your efforts to turn spectators into fans, and fans into donors, give me a call or click on the schedule link below to set up a time. I'd be happy to help!

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Topics: Community, Marketing Strategy, not-for-profit, for-mission, CRM, Customer Relationship Management, Fundraising

Kevin Mullan

Written by Kevin Mullan