Your Action Plan For First Time Donors

  • July 28, 2020
  • /   FNP Cares
  • /   Online Giving,Donor Retention
saying thank you to first time donors
First-time donors are a blessing and sometimes a surprise when they happen. After that initial donation, you need to start executing your first-time donor plan to ensure that they stay engaged with your organization and convert from a first-time donor to a recurring donor.

When a person donates online, they typically receive an automated receipt that is transactional and serves as a record that a donation took place. Retention rates for first-time donors hover around 30% and if you are want to develop a long term relationship with a first-time donor you need to provide them with gift acknowledgments that have more heart and then follow through with a consistent donor retention plan. The last thing that you want to happen is someone blesses your organization with a first-time gift and then the opportunity to create more engagement with the donor falls through the cracks. Below we give you some tips on communicating with first-time donors through email, US Postal, and over the phone.

Thank You Email (sent same day or next day)
 A thank you email can be done almost immediately and can include a lot of the same information that is conveyed in a phone conversation. Some basic information that you can include in your email include:

a) Subject Line: Keep it short, sweet, and don't be spammy
b) Personalize the email by using the donor's name and then include a warm thank you in the opening sentence or paragraph. This is a good place to mention how the donor’s gift will be used and what the impact will be.
c) Activate – Let them know how else they can get involved with your organization by either becoming a recurring donor or volunteering.
d) Follow up information – Let your donor know that they will be hearing from you soon either with a phone call or through future email correspondence.
e) Contact Information – Provide contact information for yourself or other program directors within your organization.
f) Include a Postscript – Create more engagement by adding a call to action to sign up for alerts, future campaigns, or to follow your organization on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Below is a first-time donor email template that you can use:

Subject: Thank You For Your Support

Dear {insert donor’s first name],

Thank you for the wonderful gift of [insert donation amount] on [insert donation date]!
Without your support, we would not be able to [insert description of how the donation will be used].
You and other donors that generously contribute to our organization throughout the year allow us to [insert impact statement(s) such as stats on successful programs or anything positive that further shows how your organization is delivering on your mission].

We do invite you to stay engaged with us by visiting our website and connecting to us on social media. We keep both our website and social media accounts updated with our latest news and action items for volunteering and fundraising.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me or our Director of Development, [insert name] — we would love to hear from you.

PS: We will be kicking off a new fundraising campaign next month with the goal of raising [insert fundraising goal] for [insert campaign mission]. This would be a great opportunity for you to increase your impact. If you are interested in signing up or learning more just reply to this email or you sign up here: [insert campaign sign up link].

[Your name]
[Phone #]

Thank You Note / Letter (Within 3 to 5 days)
 I recently received a handwritten thank you note from an organization that I donated to and it made me feel good that they had taken the time to send me a personalized handwritten message. Personalized notes go along way in building relationships and your donors will appreciate the effort.

Reach out by Phone (Within 30 days)
Talking to a donor is the best way to build a one on one relationship as it allows you to engage your donor in a friendly conversation and get to know them in a much deeper way. Below are a couple of best practices to consider when engaging a donor via phone:

a) Before your call review their donor history so that you know beforehand how much they have given and what they have supported.
b) Get to know them – When engaging with clients or prospects I always start the conversation off by asking the person that I am talking to how they are doing. Starting with small talk is a great way to attain more information on your donor in a relaxed and conversational manner. Also, the simple act of asking your donor or prospective donor how they are doing will lay the groundwork for the rest of your conversation because it shows that you are compassionate and care about their well-being. Your next set of questions should be investigative to try to find out how they found out about your organization, what are they passionate about, and what spurred them to support you with a donation.
c) Talk about impact – This is another opportunity to thank your donor and let them know about what their contribution means to your programs and initiatives. You can also talk about your plans and ask them if they would like to get involved on a broader level.

A Note About Donor Management
If you are using a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) document every action that you take on a donor. If you communicate with them via email, snail mail, or phone notate their record in your donor management platform so that there is documentation reflecting your engagement.

Beyond 30 Days
Your donor retention plan should include regular touchpoints with all donors that have given to your organization. It is easier and less costly to upgrade existing donors than it is to acquire new donors and your donors must not feel forgotten or they will find new more attentive organizations to support.
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