Imagine you’ve just made your first gift to a charity.

You’re feeling pretty excited about it all! It’s a cause that you’ve been feeling more connected to, and you’ve decided it’s time to get involved in a bigger way. You researched a few organizations before picking the one you believe will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Maybe you even gave a little more than you normally would because you think the mission is so important.

So, you pop that cheque in the mail or you hit that donate button. In that moment, you really feel like you’re making a difference. You’re a part of something big. You’re doing a good thing.

In a word? You feel awesome!

This is how every donor starts their relationship with you. They aren’t giving begrudgingly, or because they have to (unless we’re talking Civics). They’re giving because they just fell in love with you, your work, your cause and your mission.

It’s up to you to keep it that way, and we’ve got a few suggestions for you.

What a new donor wantS to hear the most

This one is simple, and you probably already know it: say thank you!

Say it loudly, say it proudly – but most of all, say it with heart. You don’t need to lay it on thick, but you need to be genuine when you say it. Avoid making this touchpoint feel like a template, and personalize it however you can!

Ideally, this gratitude touch needs to come as soon as possible. Naturally, the channel of choice will dictate this: you can get an email or phone call done much faster than you’ll get a package in their mailbox.

Thanking shouldn’t have a minimum giving threshold. Yes, your organization sees a $10,000 gift much differently than a $50 one. But maybe that $50 gift is a major gift for that donor. Maybe they stretched for you. So, if you can, strive to give every donor a little magic right out of the giving gate.

Take a multi-channel approach to retention

Depending on the information you’ve received from your brand new donor, consider onboarding them to your organization in a few different ways. This primes them more for multi-channel giving, which can increase long-term donor value, and gives you more opportunities to connect with them in different ways.

Consider combining a thank-you call, an email onboarding series, and perhaps even welcome package in the mail to re-invoke that initial feeling of post-gift awesomeness over and over – and get new donors associating that feeling with your org.

Reporting back to show impact

The number one complaint from donors, particularly new ones, is that they’re asked again for a gift before they’ve been told what the first gift accomplished. It’s the biggest reason they don’t give again – and we as fundraisers have full control over it!

While you’re onboarding that new donor, suppress them from solicitations to ensure this doesn’t happen. And in the meantime, start telling them exactly what their donation did!

We encourage you to get as specific as you’re able – we know that not everyone is going to be able to directly correlate a gift to an impact, but that’s the way that donor stewardship is trending. Donors want to know how many wells they dug, how much closer they brought you to buying that fMRI machine, or how many school breakfasts they purchased. As much as you can, connect the donation to real outcomes for your cause (not your organization!)

And please, please use your best-practice donor-centricity here! Give the donor all the credit, and put them right inside the change.

Keep your eye on the second gift

I know, we’re asking a lot of you here. It’s a big commitment to keep the magic of that first gift alive. But we promise, there’s a reason: because it increases your likelihood of that all-important second gift. And in a world where acquisition is getting harder and more expensive all the time, converting to a second gift and beyond helps you maximize the money you’re putting into bringing new folks on board.

These are just a few ideas and tips for transforming a brand new donor into a lifelong supporter. If you’d like to chat about anything here with us, drop us a line!