Only 35 percent of new donors ever make a second gift. Which is to say, putting it the other way, a whopping 65 percent of donors acquired by direct mail give once and never give again. Confronting this sobering statistic takes courage but is worth the effort. Here’s why.
- donors acquired through direct mail usually generate net income only after making a second donation, because acquisition mailings usually lose money (you must lose money to gain a donor)
- re-soliciting existing donors is likely to perform five to eight times more profitably than acquiring the same number of equally generous first-time donors
- today’s new donor is tomorrow’s major donor and legacy gift prospect
What all of this means for your not-for-profit organization is that the most important gift in direct mail fundraising isn’t the first gift but the second one. What’s most important isn’t your first mailing that acquires the donor, although that’s vital, obviously, but your second mailing (or third or fourth) that keeps the donor.
So the place to concentrate your scarce financial resources is not more and more donor acquisition but better donor conversion.
Donor conversion is the process of turning a first-time donor into a repeat donor.
Alan Sharpe is a direct mail fundraising copywriter, consultant and coach. He helps your development department run a successful direct mail fundraising program year after year. And that, naturally, includes direct mail donor conversion.
Here’s how Alan helps you convert new donors
Direct mail gift acknowledgement
The easiest way to generate a second gift is to thank your donor profusely for the first one. Donors who are not thanked for their first contribution are almost guaranteed not to make a second one.
Alan works with you to create a comprehensive (and workable) gift acknowledgement program that thanks your donors promptly, personally, particularly and positively. That includes warm, personal thank-you letters, notes and cards that we write and design for you.
Direct mail donor engagement
That heading makes donor conversion sound like a marriage. And it is. Your job, after securing that first gift, is to woo your first-time donor and win her loyalty. The method Alan recommends is a welcome kit.
Your welcome kit is the tool you use to continue building on the relationship that you started with your heart-felt, enthusiastic, personal, prompt thank-you letter. The goal of your welcome kit is to inform and inspire your new donors, helping them see that they made the right decision in mailing you a gift, and that your organization deserves their continued support.
Alan Sharpe creates, writes and designs your welcome kit for you.
Direct mail donor communications
First-time donors are really only pre-donors. They’ve attended one game but they aren’t fans yet. Yes, they are somewhat aware of your cause. But they probably know little about the breadth and depth of what you do and who you serve.
To transform these kind folks into long-term, loyal supporters, you need to educate and inspire them. The more that first-time donors know about your organization and the needs you meet, the more likely they are to support you again.
To attract that vital second gift, the most important thing to tell your donor is what you did with his first gift. Alan does that for you with compelling, cost-effective donor newsletters. Newsletters that persuade your new donors that you have used, or are using, their last gift as the donor intended.
Alan and his team write and design these newsletters for you, following a format and schedule that meets your budget and goals.