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Achieving the 2nd Gift Leads to Loyalty

A strong base of loyal, multi-year donors is more important than ever. Donor acquisition, retention, and re-activation is still very important. You shouldn’t overlook the importance of that timely 2nd gift for cultivating donors who will give and give again.

Our data analysis of clients tells us that conversion to second gifts is often a 3, 4, or even 5 year process. For major donors that’s reasonable. However, a well-thought out program should encourage regular annual giving to go along with periodic “significant” gifts – especially when the majority of donors aren’t giving a 2nd gift for more than 12 months. If you’re not doing this, your organization may find that it is lacking a strong foundation of loyal donors. Can you say stagnant or worse yet, shrinking donor numbers?

The good news? Properly thanking, stewarding, and cultivating new donors can be achieved with cost-effective techniques that self sustain with minimal staff time.

Here are 2 strategies to help you achieve that all important 2nd gift:

  1. Ask again — quickly! If yours is like most nonprofits, you wait too long to make the 2nd Ask. Research shows that the earlier you acquire a 2nd gift, the higher the lifetime value of a donor is. The ideal 2nd Ask happens within 3 months (or 90 days) of the original gift. This applies to both annual fund, direct response, and mid-level and major donors. Does asking a major donor for a second gift within 90 days of the 1st gift scare you? It shouldn’t. Why not try for a smaller recurring unrestricted annual gift that deepens the donor’s connection to the organization?

  2. First you steward; then you ask. As you know, the key to proper stewardship is proper cultivation through long-term relationship building. Quick, effective 2nd Asks demand strong communications regarding the change the donor’s 1st gift made in the lives of those you serve. This communication should happen within 30-60 days of the initial gift and should be focused on the specific impact of the gift on the lives of individuals, not just some generic statement(s) about progressing toward meeting fundraising goals or other outcomes that can’t be measured.

How are you doing with your post 1st gift relationships? Is there a particular strategy that is working really well for you?

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