Donor Stewardship: Keeping new, year-end donors active in 2012

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Donor Stewardship:
Keeping new, year-end donors active in 2012

Year-end giving often consists of gifts from first-time donors. While nonprofit organizations welcome the temporary increase in giving, these donors frequently drift back into anonymity. Nonprofits must proactively engage in donor stewardship to keep these first-time donors loyal in the new year.

Fundraising Success’ recent article, Keeping New 2011 Year-End Donors Active in 2012, reveals that maintaining year-end donors’ loyalty is a common challenge. Attrition is a fact of life for nonprofits, but there are ways to successfully transform first-and-only-time donors into loyal donors in 2012.

“Research shows that you have a 90-day window to get a second gift from a new donor,” explains Pamela Barden in the Fundraising Success article. “How you treat donors for those first three months is essential. Your goal is to strike a balance; you don’t want to overwhelm them with contacts, but you also don’t want them to feel ignored.”

Our Perspective
The most difficult challenge for a development operation is to get someone to make their first gift. Nonprofits spend copious amounts of time, resources and effort to make that happen. While it takes fewer resources and time to encourage a donor to make a subsequent gift, some first-time donors may not give again. Stewardship allows the donors to become more aware of and involved in an organization. This added connection to the organization creates an inclination for donors to contribute another gift.

“Fundraising is all about relationships. How donors feel about your organization – and their connection to you – influences their decision to continue or increase their giving,” states Frank Pisch, chairman and CEO of The Compass Group. “Stewardship takes personal attention and is labor intensive. You know the old fundraising truism – It is easier to get a larger gift from a current donor than a first-time gift from a non-donor – and still many organizations struggle with stewardship.”

Donor Stewardship in 2012
Entering the new year with generous year-end gifts from current and new donors is a good thing, and using stewardship to keep these donors will ensure a more productive 2012. Consider Barden’s suggestions for improving and expanding stewardship:

  • Send a summary receipt to each donor. This may net more gifts if a warm letter of appreciation and a return envelope are enclosed.
  • Include the gift designation on the receipt. This helps build confidence in the organization’s integrity and will give new donors assurance that their wishes were heard and honored.
  • Plan a “welcome” series. This material should include information about the nonprofit’s successes and the results of its work.
  • Consider offering a small mission-appropriate premium for a second gift in 45 or 60 days. This can trigger additional giving, especially from donors who gave smaller amounts as first gifts.
  • Find creative ways to say “thank you.” For example, include a photograph that shows the nonprofit’s work or a handwritten message in the thank-you card.

The goal of stewardship is to foster relationships with donors. With additional reinforcement that their investment was a great decision for bringing about positive change, donors are more likely to give again.

Full Article: Keeping New 2011 Year-End Donors Active in 2012.

© 2018 The Compass Group, Inc.