It’s the most wonderful (stressful) time of the year!November 1, 2023
What’s In and What’s Out For 2024 (According to Team TPC)January 19, 2024
Ahh yes, the holiday season – a busy time for us nonprofit professionals, but for good reason. It’s the season of giving, and with that, comes an influx of new donors supporting your cause.
We love new donors – duh! And ultimately, we want them to stick around, but this can be difficult during the holiday season. With tons of donations coming in, folks can get lost in the shuffle and only end up hearing from us when they receive their donation acknowledgement letter (spoiler alert, this probably won’t turn them into life-long supporters).
We humbly offer 3 (plus a bonus) of our favorite stewardship tactics to help you add some oomph to your fundraising follow-up and increase your donor retention rate this holiday season!
1. Amp up your thank yous
Sending a personalized letter acknowledging a donor’s gift is good, but providing additional education and detailing how they can deepen their involvement along with that letter is better! If a donor is engaging with you for the first time, you want to make sure they’ve got a clear picture of what you do and how their contributions – time, treasures, and talents – can support your mission.
We LOVE this example of the new donor welcome packet from our friends at A Place Called Home! Each new donor receives an email with a welcome message from the organization’s CEO and CDO, and a link to view and download the packet which clearly outlines the organization’s mission, focus areas, and all the ways an individual can get involved.
The best part? You only have to spend time creating one piece of collateral, schedule to send to new donors, and let it do the rest for you! *Be sure to include contact information so folks can reach out if they have questions.
2. Engage from all angles
A holiday donation may be the first step through the doorway, and we want to help our supporters come all the way in, take off their jacket, and get comfy. How do we do that? By focusing on building community.
We don’t want donors to feel like we’re only engaging them to ask for money, we want them to become a part of our community and to see our mission as their shared mission. Make sure to send donors invitations to upcoming volunteer projects or fundraising events. Invite them to get in on the action to see firsthand the community they are helping serve, to meet constituents face to face and hear their stories. These are the impactful moments that will keep them coming back (and making donations).
3. Lean into the “old school”
In the age of texting and DMs, it can seem a little out-dated, but sometimes a good old fashioned phone call to say thanks is the way to go (especially if you’ve got older donors). You can talk in real time with the donor about your organization’s mission, their interests, and how they can directly support your work. Plus, they’ll get familiar with you and have a solid point of contact to reach out to when they’re thinking about making that 5 or 6 figure gift (we hope 🙂).
Now, we know there may not be enough time in a day, a week, or even a month, to call every single donor on your list, so it’s time to get strategic! Make a list of folks that give over a certain threshold and divide and conquer with your development team and Board of Directors. This personalized touch around the holidays will be extra special.
Bonus: Don’t wait to ask for another gift!
This one might seem a little counter-intuitive, but trust us. Now, we’re not saying go straight to the ask – we included tips 1-3 for a reason, so make sure you’re first saying thank you to your new donors and finding ways to engage them outside of asking for money. Buttttt, according to this article from donorperfect, recency is a key factor in determining the likelihood a donor will make a gift, and there’s a 90 day “sweet spot” during which your donors should hear from you.
That same article cites that only 19% of first time donors will give again, but donors who give a second time are 63% more likely to give again i.e. if you can get someone to give twice, your chances of locking them in as a recurring donor go WAYYY up.
We suggest following up with giving opportunities focused on specific initiatives – whether it’s serving 100 meals, securing tutoring to 5 students, or providing fresh water to a village, donors are more likely to give when there is an end goal in sight and they know exactly where their money is going. Plus, you can create a nice follow up report of the initiative’s success!
Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to ask, and make it specific!
We hope this post has given you some actionable steps to take your holiday retention rates from trash to cash. As always, we’re rooting for you!
-The TPC Team