Do You Know Why Your Donors Gave Their First Gift? | Fund Raising

first-time donors

The other day I received a solicitation in the mail from an organization I made a donation to a few years back. I have yet to make a second donation. Let me tell you the story.

A few years ago, when I was finishing my MBA, one of my professors told the class that if we donated at least $25 to a local legal aid society we would get a bump in our grade. So of course, I like the rest of the class, made this donation.

I got my usual form letter thank you. And then the solicitations started. Every few months I’d receive an ask for money. First through email and mail (until I unsubscribed from the emails) and then just mail.

I’ve never done another thing with this organization except that donation. And quite frankly I probably won’t. Things might have been different if they changed the way they followed up after my donation.

When they get the first donation, I would have hoped they would have googled my name. That would have quickly brought up my LinkedIn profile, and my connections to a local MBA program and to Bloomerang (we are fundraising experts after all). My connection to the MBA program might have suggested larger capacity than $25 in the future. My position at Bloomerang might have clued them into the fact I could be a good potential addition to their board or advisory circle based on my fundraising knowledge.

A quick call would have told them the story about the class, and why of the many local legal aid charities I chose that one.

As first-time donor retention rates are hovering in the low 20’s nationally, I’d expect they’d want to know why they received a donation out of the blue. Having a first-time donor survey ready to go would have helped them understand my “why” for donating.

Knowing my “why” would mean they should know I need more education about the impact they’re making in the community before I’d be ready to give again. The next time they had a donor tour, I should be invited to see their space and meet their team. Reaching out through a handwritten note or voicemail would have been appropriate.

What are you doing to combat the low retention rates for first-time donors?

gift acknowledgement program

Author information

Gabriel Harkov

Gabriel Harkov

Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang

Gabriel Harkov, MBA is a Senior Account Executive at Bloomerang. He was previously Operations and Program Associate at the Indiana Youth Institute and Operations Manager at the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.

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