Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang. A prolific writer and speaker, he curates Bloomerang’s sector-leading educational content and hosts their weekly webinar series. Steven has contributed content to the National Council of Nonprofits, AFP, NTEN and Nonprofit Hub, and is a frequent conference speaker. He’s also a co-author of Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition.
Another Giving Tuesday has come and gone; hopefully your efforts paid off in the form of new donors acquired, new social media followers, engaged volunteers, and an “extra” year-end gift from current loyal donors.
While you may still be exhausted from the whirlwind of activity during year-end, now is a great time to turn your attention the topic of donor retention, particularly if you invested heavily in new donor acquisition activities centered around Giving Tuesday.
Simple: ROI, or return on investment.
Similar to in-person events, campaigns like Giving Tuesday can come with a hefty cost that isn’t always made up by the contributions it secures. Simply put: you may need to retain Giving Tuesday donors to put yourself out of the red and into the black (as well as starting down the path towards upgrades, major gifts and legacy gifts).
Here are three steps to help you retain your Giving Tuesday donors in the new year:
1. Assess who your Giving Tuesday donors are
Donors giving to a specific campaign often times go homogenized; lumped into a group based on gift timing rather than gift frequency/recency or gift motivation.
Within your Giving Tuesday donors are a multitude of unique donor types: each of which whom will respond differently to your communications. One of the worst things you can do is lump all of these folks into a one-size-fits-all communications cadence.
After the conclusion of any campaign, it’s important to assess who, how and if possible why each donor gave. Typically, the least we do in this assessment is examine gift amount, which only tells part of the story.
Consider using your donor database to examine the following criteria:
- Gift frequency: was it their first gift, their second, their 10th? do they also give monthly?
- Gift recency: how long had it been since their last gift? did they give again before Jan. 1?
- Gift amount: did they give more or less than their average gift amount?
- Contribution channel: did they give through your website, P2P, Facebook, mail?
- Acquisition channel: did they respond (last touch) to an email, a letter, a text, etc.?
The goal here is to segment your communications according to which bucket these Giving Tuesday donors might fall into. This may seem daunting at first; but don’t feel you need to reinvent the wheel or create 100s of different thank you letter templates or workflows.
At a minimum, all you have to do here is acknowledge which bucket the donor falls into. Donors love it when you tell them what kind of donor they are. Aim for personalization that names the bucket, like “thanks for your first gift” or “thanks for being a monthly donor AND helping us out on Giving Tuesday.”
You can accomplish this without even changing your thank you letter template; just add a nice handwritten note in the margins. Their eyes will be drawn to it, and it will show that you took some time to highlight their special contribution (they’re all special)!
2. Audit your appreciation efforts
This is a fancy way of saying “did you thank these donors appropriately?” If you’re reading this deep into Q1 of the following year, your best window of opportunity to say thanks might have already closed (ideally you would have said thanks prior Dec. 31st).
But a late thank you is better than no thanks at all. In fact, in certain situations, you have a unique opportunity to say thanks in a contextual and impactful way.
For example, if a Giving Tuesday donor also gave again after Giving Tuesday but before Jan 1., you could send a special note acknowledging both gifts and how they will make a difference in the new year.
Similarly, if a Giving Tuesday has given again already in Q1 of the following year, don’t hesitate to mention both gifts, as in: “Thanks for supporting us again so soon after your generous Giving Tuesday gift!” It’s always a good idea to highlight multiple gifts within a small window of time.
Lastly, if the Giving Tuesday gift was the last gift they have made, and it went under- or unacknowledged, an out-of-the-blue stewardship letter, note, voicemail or email can go a long way. The trick is to not simply send a Giving Tuesday thank you letter; you want to avoid the reaction of “Wow, it took them this long?” Instead, consider telling a story of the tangible impact that Giving Tuesday gifts like there’s have already made in the new year.
You don’t want a late winter/early spring appeal to be the next thing that a Giving Tuesday donor gets from you, especially if they were bombarded with year-end appeals immediately after their Giving Tuesday donations.
3. Move donors towards monthly giving
Giving Tuesday donations, particularly small dollar donations from brand new donors, are one of the best gateways to monthly giving.
Assuming you have done a good job welcoming these new donors through ample appreciation and storytelling, Q1 is a great time to introduce your monthly giving program.
Context is critical here. Don’t blindside them with a generic sustainer pitch. Instead, tie it to their Giving Tuesday gift. Experiment with phrases like “you can keep your impact going year-round” or “you don’t have to wait until the next holiday season to make a difference.”
Look closely at the gift amount of their original Giving Tuesday donation and apply a formula to derive a monthly giving amount that is much less than that original gift amount, but over 12 months constitutes an upgrade. For example, if you received $50 on Giving Tuesday, consider a $5 to $7 monthly amount pitch. Remember: the retention rates for a monthly donor average above 90% vs 20% for a new, one-time donor, so even an annual increase of just a few dollars can mean an enormous increase in lifetime value.
As with any major fundraising campaign, the real work of Giving Tuesday begins after the gift is made. Luckily, if you put stewardship at the forefront of your strategy, you’ll find that work to be not only enjoyable, but also very fruitful!