February 2, 2018 Jillian Jenkins

Not too long ago, I saw a deeply touching Facebook post about a humanitarian crisis. It featured a heartbreaking story and what a certain organization was doing to help those in need. I immediately clicked the “Donate” button and made a gift. Within minutes I had a receipt in my inbox and then . . . nothing.No thank-you email, no update on what my gift had done, and no opportunity to engage further or give again.

As a result, I remember very little about the organization or how they were helping. I don’t even remember the story that motivated me to give. But I do remember that I never heard from them again.

Don’t let this happen to your newly acquired donors! A thoughtfully constructed Welcome Series can make all the difference, and here’s why:

  1. New donors need and want to hear from you!
    Giving money to an organization, especially one that is unfamiliar, is an act of trust. That said, newly acquired donors need to know that they have made a good decision and feel good about what they’ve done. Bottom line, you want your new donors to remember you for the right reasons.
  2. New donors are a flight risk
    When a new donor doesn’t feel great about giving to you the first time, they are unlikely to ever give again. If the organization I mentioned had sent an appeal shortly after my initial gift, I probably would have given a second time. Instead, my new donor record is gathering dust.

A welcome series can and should take many forms. Wherever a donor connects with you, make sure you welcome them through the channel on which they entered. For example: if you acquired a donor online, a series of emails would be appropriate. However, if the donor gave a donation through the mail, a welcome newsletter with a cover note, and a warm, handwritten note from your CEO should be sent. And if you combine both email and mail communications together, it will almost always help to increase activation.

Regardless of the channel, your welcome series should do two things:

  1. Thank the Donor
    Let them know that you are grateful for their generosity and the meaningful work that will be done through them! It’s what every donor wants. It’s easy to slip into telling them all about your organization, but try to hold back. Sharing a personal story of how a life has been changed will mean much more than a description of what you do. Remember, donors give to people, not to programs.
  2. Invite the Donor to Take the Next Step!
    Make sure the donor knows the impact they can have through your organization and invite them to be a part of it. Test different messaging and see what resonates, and don’t be afraid to ask them to financially participate. A brand-new donor is often the most likely person to join your monthly donor program.

Be sure to take some time to review how you’re welcoming new donors to your organization and give them an experience that they’ll remember, for all the right reasons!

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