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September 4, 2019 Wiley Stinnett

What if our organization hasn’t done a good job of connecting with first-time donors during the year. What should we do?

New donors are a vital part of any fundraising plan. And you have spent your valuable time and dollars finding people who not only agree with your cause but want to fund it. So, don’t throw away all that effort by failing to connect with these new people right away. This is an area you need to fix ASAP!

Timing is key. The majority of new donors will activate within the first 90 days after their first gift. So, providing them with multiple opportunities to give again in the first three months will give you the best results. Now, where do you get started . . .

Your first communication right off the bat should be a gift acknowledgment letter thanking the donor for their gift. This should be done within 24 – 48 hours of gift receipt.

Implement a multi-channel series of contacts (mail, phone, and email) to give first-time donors the maximum channels to engage and give again within the first 90 days.

Consider what types of follow-up communications would be best suited to help this new donor engage and give again. A handwritten thank-you note. A phone call for no other purpose than to thank her for her gift (this could be done by a volunteer). A newsletter designed to show her the impact of her gift. An offer to become a monthly partner. An appeal with an offer similar to what she gave to in her first gift.

And remember, as you are timing your new donor pieces, you need to plan how and when they enter your existing cultivation program, and how their second gift impacts this flow of communication.

While this may sound simple, it requires significant effort to track, report, and adjust your process. New donors are the life-blood of your fundraising efforts, and maximizing second gift results will have a dramatic impact on your income and active donor growth.

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