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Where is the Second Gift?

I know you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating:

Keeping a first time donor happy is easier AND cheaper than replacing that donor.

Listen to me—prioritizing retention over acquisition will ensure that you will be memorialized as a fundraising wizard. Just kidding about the wizard part, but I’m not kidding in the slightest about the wisdom of placing more importance of retaining new donors over the constant search for new ones.

You say you don’t know what to do to accomplish the above? Don’t fret. If you can avoid these mistakes, you’ll be doing exactly what you should.


  • Not saying thank you—Bloomerang reports that 13% of new donors don’t give a 2nd gift because they don’t feel they’ve been adequately thanked.

  • Patting your organization on its back for all the good it does—Instead tell stories about people impacted by your cause—like the story of the puppy washed away by Hurricane Irma in Florida that somehow found its way to New Jersey before it was re-united with its owner.

  • Using a last name when you have a 1st name—Donors want to feel a personal connection. Using your donor’s first name when you have it just makes sense.

  • Sending “canned” emails – Just as you do with your direct mail appeals, craft messages for each donor segment—different messages.

  • Putting your donor through a cumbersome online experience-If your website isn’t mobile, or if you’re using CAPTCHAS on your donation page, you’re throwing money out the door.

  • Failing to ask donors why they gave – It’s an important question that can offer important insights into a donor’s psyche.

  • Assuming that your donors know the impact of their gift- Donors give because they want to change the world. Remind them again and again that their support is doing exactly that.

  • Forgetting to ask for a 2nd gift-Donors report that when they give it makes them feel good. Some nonprofits feel that asking for a 2nd gift is too pushy. Remember, you’re giving donors another opportunity to feel good about giving.

  • Neglecting to tell your donor what’s next - The more you can get donors to interact with you the more likely they’ll be continue to support you. It’s your job to keep them informed about “what’s next.”

Chances are, you’re making at least one of the mistakes just mentioned. However many of these “mistakes” you’re making, you owe it to your new donors to fix them.

Can you add to this list of barriers to getting a 2nd gift from new donors?

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