How To Make Sure Your New Donor Acquisition Investment Pays Off

Jackie SmithSeptember 16, 2021

New Donor Acquisition

There is no doubt that you’ve worked hard on new donor acquisition for your organization. And, more than likely, you’ve also spent a pretty penny acquiring them. 

But what happens next? How do you get that investment to pay off? This is probably a question on your mind, as well as something your board might be asking you every chance they get. 

The good news is that there are two things you can do to help the donors you’ve acquired become long-term givers and shorten the time it takes to make up the investment of acquiring them.

Understanding what donors want and expect

Let’s start with what the donors want and expect. 

Think of your new donor relationship just as you would any new relationship. Just because you had a great first date with someone doesn’t mean you want to propose marriage the next day. Just because you were nice to the new person in the office on their first day doesn’t mean you’re now their new BFF and that you want to hang out every day after work.  

New relationships take time to nurture, and during that time, you’re working to get to know each other better and build a deeper connection. As you continue to evaluate each other, you determine your long-term goals for the relationship. Just like dating, it’s the time to get to know each other and then determine if this could be “the one.”   

To bring this back to you and your donors, here’s something I’ve seen in my work: Often, many nonprofits put their brand-new donors into the regular communication stream right away. They obviously know that securing a second gift is necessary to predict long-term value and giving, but throwing these new donors into your mass communications right away is a big mistake. It’d be like proposing marriage after one date.

Your donors likely want and expect to get to know you before they make another gift or take another action to support your mission. When you understand that, you can better understand how to court or steward your new donors.

Stewarding your new donors with a welcome email series

So, how do you court or steward a new donor? One effective way to do it is to put them into a welcome email series.  

When designing your welcome email series—usually consisting of three to five emails sent over the course of several days or one week—here are a few things you can or should include:

  • Inspirational stories about someone your organization has helped that solidifies that the donor’s gift is already at work
  • Information that ties in what program the donor supported
    • It’s tempting to add a bunch of exciting things that your organization is also doing. However, this is the time to help them see the impact of their specific gift and their connection to your organization. For example, if you acquired the donors from an event, be sure to mention the event in your first email.
  • Different versions for one-time donors vs. monthly donors
    • For one-time donors, include a call to action in the last email asking them to consider giving a second gift or to become a monthly donor at an appropriate donation level.
    • For monthly donors, your goal is to get them so excited about your organization that they don’t cancel their monthly gift. You may also ask them to either consider increasing their monthly amount or giving an additional one-time gift to an important campaign or cause that aligns with the reason why they gave in the first place. 

Tagging your new donors so you’re better able to communicate with them

One thing you can do in your database is to add tags to your donor records. The information that you tag will be invaluable down the road because it will inform how you segment your acquisition audience for upcoming appeals and communications. The more tailored the content, the better chance that your calls-to-action will resonate with them and inspire them to give again.  

Tags you can add to your donor records

Some of the tags you should consider adding to these records are:

  • The offer they responded to
    • This is especially important if you have multiple offers at your organization. Your donor will appreciate that you took the time to note what was important to them and keep them updated on how their gift was used.
  • The channel they prefer
    • If you acquire donors through different channels, you’ll want to tag the method through which the donor gave to your nonprofit. For example, if someone gave through a direct mail campaign, you should continue sending them direct mail appeals. However, you may want to test other channels in the future in case they find they prefer another way to give.
  • The time of year they gave
    • If you’re doing acquisition multiple times per year, you may want to also add a tag showing the season or month when they gave their first gift. That way, you can reach out to them during their preferred season, while also gently testing other times of year to see if the donor gives at another time.

Being able to communicate better with your donors should be a top priority, and the way to do this is to pay attention to what they are telling you, writing it down on their record, and then using it appropriately. 

Not only will tagging help with future campaign metrics, but your donors will also appreciate it as well, which increases trust in your organization and the likelihood that they’ll give again.  

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Fundraising