You’ll recall that a speedy second gift is an important part of building relationships with your fresh new
donors. It also indicates that you have done a good job in conveying your mission and your case
To craft our second gift strategy, let’s go back and think about why donors give in the first place.
There are a variety of reasons that could include:
But I believe people give for two reasons only:
It’s important to separate the two because those who give out of obligation (we’ll call them,
“obligationers,” are not likely to make a second gift (unless we’re talking about tithing).
The obligation crowd (honor/memorial, and peer to peer) are NOT likely to make a second gift so put
those folks aside and focus on the JOYFUL crowd (aka: mission-based donors.)
I repeat: Do NOT spend your time on the obligationers – (this goes for some Premium-seekers and
event attendees too.) Use social media and brand raising for the eventual few who might come around
at some point to becoming a JOYFUL giver.
Joyful givers are searching for meaning in their lives and being a partner in your mission fulfills that
need. If you’re a good partner (i.e., practicing meaningful, personal cultivation) then they will continue
to give over the long haul.
The actions you take at the beginning of your relationship will have a major impact on the number of
donors who will become longtime partners, their lifetime value, and the overall retention and health of
With that in mind, let’s look at ways to attract, inspire, and move an individual to become a loyal, long
time giver to your organization.
Pretend for a few minutes that you are your donor.
Step 1: Grab your latest control package and mix it in with a pile of the daily mail. (Reviewing a pdf of
the package while sitting at your desk will void this entire exercise so don’t do it.)
Step 2: Stand over your kitchen trash can and sort through the mail pile.
Step 3: When you come upon your control package, as objectively as possible, ask yourself the following
questions as you review the package:
If you (as the donor) do decide to open it, review the contents:
Notice your reactions to each question. Write down any observations you have so you’ll remember
to discuss areas for improvement with your team.
Hopefully, your control package has you reaching for your checkbook to join this amazing
organization ASAP. If it doesn’t, then you’ve got some work to do.
Make sure you have a solid mix of niche lists and models that will target your best potential prospects.
We are finding the models are bring in higher dollar givers on acquisition and we have preliminary
research that shows a high correlation between high inception amount and LTV. We’ll drill deeper into
that research in a future post. For now, I think we can agree that people who give more tend to be
better donors which is not exactly breaking news…
It’s also important to review your acquisition results by list and be on the lookout for lists that yield the
most second givers. If you can track how quickly they made that second gift, that’s even better but be
sure you’ve got that list of 2x-giver lists handy when planning your next acquisition. That extra data
point will boost your success.
First 10 days – Unless you’re able to process printed acknowledgments in a timely (less than 3 weeks)
manner, get a voice broadcast message out to your donors letting them know you received their gift,
you’re so grateful, and a formal ack is on the way.
Put yourself in your donors’ shoes. Imagine you’re 70+ years old, you’ve mailed in a check to your
favorite org and you’re regularly hearing about issues with the USPS so you’re likely VERY concerned
that your gift arrived safely. A quick call will put their minds at ease and give you one more reason to
touch base with them.
Welcome Series – if you don’t have one, start putting one together. Many NPO’s will not survive the
coming recession. The ones that do, will have made the effort to invest in their donors. Follow our
simple 3-step formula for strengthening the relationship:
Reframe your “Ways to Give” mindset into “Ways to Support” as this expands the scope to include nonmonetary ways that your donors can be a partner to your organization. You’ll score points with the
donors and attract individuals who have greater devotion to your mission. And remember, the onus is
on you, the non-profit to be regularly reminding donors of their options. Don’t assume they know what
In your list, be sure to include
Find creative ways to make these stand out in your direct mail and you’ll continue to bolster support of
your program while stewarding VIPs who will invest in your organization for years to come! The actions
you take in the first 90 days of your relationship can make all the difference for donors’ LTV so focus
your efforts there and you’ll see healthy returns for years to come.