Nonprofits have 60 days to get a second gift.  If you accomplish this tall task, that donor is three times more likely to renew the following year.

Sixty Days.

If you want to improve your retention and the lifetime value of donors you should look closely at the sixty days that follow a first gift.

What motivates giving?

In studies performed by RKD, as well as pieces regularly published elsewhere, the factor that drives philanthropic support the most is belief.

The 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy found that the primary stated motivations for giving were:

  • Believing in the mission of the organization (54%)
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference (44%)
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment (39%)
  • Supporting the same causes annually (36%)
  • Giving back to the community (27%)
  • Adhering to religious beliefs (23%)

Belief is connected to the top two responses.  Belief is emotional, not rational.  Belief is heart, not head.  Belief is the reason you must act within the first sixty days to strengthen your connection with your newly-acquired donor.

Optimization of second-gift strategies almost always means better leveraging the halo period after the first gift.

Five Tips

So how do you optimize within this 60-day window?  The key is to know the important engagement benchmarks and execute a timely funneling strategy.

1)  Send a second first touch (1-7 days):
Send an immediate thank you and a personal follow up. Acknowledge the gift but go further.  In your acknowledgment, thank new donors for their time in addition to their gift; introduce the organization and offer a subscription to newsletters or updates.  Make it multichannel, connecting with your new donors through email, mobile and social media.  And always, always include an opportunity for them to give again.

2)  Highlight the impact of their action (8-15 days):
Time to make the next connection and strengthen the bond you have with this new donor. Within the week that follows, reach out to your new donor again and highlight impact—not your impact as an organization, rather, the impact made by the donor supporting your cause.

3) Build donor affinity (16-30 days):
Donors love proof that their investment in your cause is making a difference, which is where storytelling becomes a major part of new donor cultivation. In the first 30 days, maximize your opportunities to reinforce their decision to support you.  In a multichannel environment, this might include custom audience targeting through Facebook with cultivation stories, or a resend of your latest online newsletter.  This approach demonstrates the results and why the donor is still needed, leading them towards giving another gift.

4) Activate through engagement (30-45 days):
Don’t just talk at the donor, talk with the donor. You’ve been peppering donors with proof of the impact of their donation—that affords you the opportunity to ask for additional actions. Extend the conversation with engagement devices that encourage donors to share their belief with you and with others.  Reply slips, surveys, videos and social engagement tools will encourage them to reach back out to you.

5) Make a rational ask for another gift (45-60 days):
If an organization is not making an additional ask within the first sixty days, it is more often because of a lack of comfort in asking in general.  Remember, though, that belief is the dominant reason for giving.  Sustaining belief through sharing impact will help prime first-time donors to contribute again.  Provide a compelling, clear offer and ask, so that they know exactly what kind of gift you need from them.

Second-gift strategies are a topic of emphasis at RKD Group, especially when the organizations we serve have goals of rapid donor growth.

You might easily get new donors in the door, but you must have a connected strategy to retention, so that you can deepen your relationship with those acquired.