Get that second donation

Expert Advice on How to Get a Second Donation

This article tells you how to get a second gift. According to data compiled by Giving USA, the first-time donor retention rate has hovered right around 24 percent for years. That means that of every 100 new donors you recruit this year, only twenty-four will give again. That’s abysmal.

You can do better if you express authentic thanks immediately following a donation, interacting with and engaging your new donor, and reporting on the impact the gift made in alleviating the community issue important to the donor.

How to Get a Second Donation

Since the donor has given, you know they are invested enough in your agency’s mission to donate. Build on that emotional investment. Create an ongoing positive cycle of donor engagement and mission fulfillment.

Thank Your Donors

A simple thank you goes a long way toward building strong donor relationships. Saying thank you acknowledges and validates the actions of someone who has gone out of their way to make a donation. Saying thank you meets your donor’s basic need to feel appreciated. And people welcome having their needs met. People are much more likely to respond to your needs if you respond to theirs.

Immediately thank and engage new donors. To do this, set up a series of welcome emails to send to new donors.

  1. The first email is an immediate acknowledgement of the gift. This should be generated by your online gift processing software.
  2. The second email, sent within 24 hours of making the gift, is an individualized email thanking the donor for the gift and telling them the impact their gift made on meeting community needs.
  3. The third email, sent about two weeks after the gift is made, is a donor welcome packet.
  4. The fourth email is asking for feedback.

Thank Your Donors Again

Donors cannot be thanked enough. You want to thank them often and through a number of channels. For example, you can recognize donors:

  • on your website
  • in your newsletters
  • on your signage
  • in your annual reports
  • through donor appreciation events

No one I know has ever been offended by being thanked too much.

Your donors are heroes in making the mission possible. Let them know it. Thank them promptly and often. 

Tell Your Donors What They Did

Not only do you need to thank your donors, you also need to tell them how their donations were used. Not in terms of meeting agency needs, but in terms of the impact they have made in solving the issue they were interested in alleviating.

For example, don’t just tell them how people many you fed, also tell them the impact that providing nutritious food had on the people you fed. Feeding people not only fills their stomachs, but also prevents chronic disease and theft. And preventing chronic disease and theft reduces the community’s costs for healthcare and policing. If you’re feeding children, providing meals improves learning which increases graduation rates which leads to a more prepared workforce and less dependence on government programs, decreasing societal costs.

And make it personal. Tell a story about how someone’s life was changed. 

So, when you report on results, think through the impact. It may be more significant than it appears. 

Engage Your Donors

If you want a second donation, you must start re-cultivating them immediately after the first donation. Donors who are engaged are much more likely to repeat and even increase their donations. The key is to keep them engaged. Make your interactions a two-way relationship.

Don’t always ask for money. Donors often complain that the only time they hear from a nonprofit is when it needs money. Let them know how important a relationship with them is to you, beyond money. Let them know you know they are more than ATMs and appreciate them as whole people. In word and deed.

Ask for feedback about their experiences. Get them talking. Continue to build relationships. Ask your donors to do something, like respond to a poll, share a social media post, attend a community event, sign a petition, ask a neighbor to join them at an event, or something else. Take the relationship to the next level.

Then ask them how else they would like to be involved with your organization. They may wish to volunteer. They may want to meet a board member. They may want a leadership experience. They may want to hobnob with other donors. They may want to learn new skills. They may want an exclusive social experience. The list goes on. Structure experiences that are meaningful for them. 

Getting a Second Donation

To create the most effective donor relationships, thank your donors not only when they donate, but whenever they respond to a call to action. You can never thank your donors too often. I have never met any donor who was offended by being thanked too much unless the thank you came across as unauthentic.

Then engage them some more. Take the next step to developing a successful relationship and ask your donor to do something other than donating. Increase the likelihood that you will retain your donors and they will give again.

Learn More About Donor Retention

Of course, you want to retain more than just donors. You also want to retain good board members, talented staff, and motivated volunteers. Learn how to retain all members of your development team in my new book The ROI Mindset: How to Raise More Money with the Budget You Have.


See my books and trainings