What’s better than receiving a donation, the vital lifeblood needed for nonprofits to do their life-saving work? Receiving multiple donations from the same person or—even better—groups of people!
It could make a world of difference for an NPO to go from scraping by to thriving. So how do you get your donors to generously spare a few bucks more than once? And the better question is, who are we and why do we know?
We’re Fifty and Fifty, a marketing agency that partners with charities and purpose-driven brands across the globe to strengthen their creative thinking and share their meaningful messages with a wider audience.
From launching new nonprofits to sustaining multinational NGOs, we help purpose-driven brands and organizations by serving as a strategic arm for their communications, fundraising, launch strategy, and digital solutions.
We’ve worked with nonprofits such as the Red Cross and socially driven corporations including Livestraw and Sony, but we love to help smaller orgs, too. Anyone who works diligently to save vulnerable populations is a friend of ours.
In helping our clients garner more donations, we always tell them one of the most important things they should focus on is thanking their existing donor base and focusing on repeat donations. Did you know that recurring donors give 42% more per year than those who make a one-time gift?
So how can you thank those who’ve already shared graciously and encourage them to give a little more? Here are our top 5 tips:
1) Send an immediate thank you
Make sure you set up an automated email that sends them a “thank you” message, ideally right away. Donating money to a worthwhile cause is a very human effort. While it may sound silly, humans love to know when our help is appreciated. The more timely your thanks, the better. Plus, it creates an opportune moment to plug your social media handles while your org is top of mind for them, so they can stay in the loop about what’s next.
2) Show them where their money went
How did you use their donation? Who benefitted? The more you can illustrate your story with names and background info of the people who directly receive your help, the better. Plus, if you can share how much closer you are to achieving your goals (or if you’ve smashed them!), any donor would love to hear that. If they gave an especially generous amount, you can even ask them if they’re okay with your org sharing their gift publicly on your social channels.
3) Write a personal note
A lot of our clients find success in writing tax receipts for their donors. Sure, this step is easier for a small org, but little touches like including their name and donation amount go a long way. Plus, it gives you a good excuse to reach out and share an update. Whether you’re leading the fundraising branch of your org, on the marketing team, or at the helm of the whole organization, adding your name, giving them a helpful doc, and personally expressing your gratitude will make them feel great.
4) Keep track of who donates, when, and how much they give
It may seem like a tedious task, especially if you’re at a point in your fundraising efforts where you still have to manually input all this information. But there are so many tools out there that can help you manage all your customer information, like Hubspot or Virtuous.
Regardless of how you track things, it helps your team so much down the line; you’ll know who your heavy hitters are and you can keep track of what times of the year are especially more popular times to donate (Giving Tuesday, anyone?).
5) Automate wherever you can
Lots of tech companies will help facilitate the donation process. GoFundMe includes an option for recurring donations. RoundUp is set up for donors to automatically give spare change on a monthly basis and it’s free to download. There are lots of tools out there to help make your life (and your donors’ lives) a whole lot easier. We’ve even created our own.
As a bonus 6th tip…
6) Make sure your marketing shows why repeat donations are even better
Share on social media, blog about it, and post it to your newsletter. Do the math for your donors so they can see how much bigger of an impact a frequent contribution can make, even if it’s a smaller donation amount (i.e. $15 monthly for 1 year versus a one-time $50 donation). It sounds a lot more palpable for people to think in small increments.
These are simply 5 (well, 6) of our favorite tips for getting started with thanking donors and increasing recurring donations. Of course, there’s much more that can be done.
7) Don't wait for a gift to say thank you
Most thank-you cadences start when a donor makes a gift or volunteers. However, the best thank-you messages go above and beyond by thanking contributors even when they haven’t immediately donated. Consider sending your donors and volunteers thank-you letters when:
- Your campaign reaches its goal. Some campaigns can last years, so keeping donors updated as you make progress toward your goal is crucial. Once the campaign has wrapped up or hit a significant milestone, thank your donors again for their support and provide information about their gift’s specific impact.
- They experience a personal milestone. This message doesn’t have to be focused on thanking the donor, but you can always mention how you’re grateful for their presence in your nonprofit’s community. For instance, you might write to one of your major donors congratulating them on their 10-year wedding anniversary and mention how the nonprofit is thankful to know them.
- It’s the holiday season. The holidays are a time for togetherness and spreading good cheer. Send a Season’s Greetings card to your donors wishing them well during the holidays and thank them for their generosity throughout the year.
- It’s the anniversary of their first contribution to your nonprofit. The best way to turn one-time donors into recurring donors is to remind them of your nonprofit. Simply sending a thank-you card a year after their initial engagement with your organization is effective for staying top-of-mind after some time has passed.
For these letters, remember to not ask for further donations to avoid coming off as insincere. While donor appreciation is an important part of retaining support, your main motive for thanking them is to express your genuine gratitude for their kindness.
Get in touch with Fifty and Fifty to see how we may help you leverage your existing donor network and strategically get more recurring revenue to support your social cause! And if you’re looking for an online tool that helps drive more recurring giving, Donately may be a good place to start your research.