Are you making your new donors feel special?
In December, I attended the holiday part of a local nonprofit as the guest of a good friend. The mission of the organization resonated with me, and I was excited to learn more about their work. Before I left, I made a modest donation, excited to be getting more involved.
That night, I received a generic, auto-generated email receipt. I haven’t heard from them since.
What happens when someone makes a first-time gift to you? Do they receive an impersonal email, only to never hear from you again? Do they get a belated thank you letter reminding them that their gift is tax-deductible? Will they hear from you again before you ask them for more money?
If you’re cringing because you know that somewhere out there, there’s a first-time donor you’ve let slip through the cracks, you’re not alone. I am a huge fan of donor welcome packets, but in more than 10 years of philanthropic giving, I’ve only received one.
Read More: Is Your Donation page Costing You Donors?
Enthusiastically welcome your donors
C’mon. We can do better. Imagine, instead, your stewardship plan includes a process for welcoming new donors.
I make a first-time gift and receive a warm, conversational, and well-written email with a video about your work, or a link to learn more about an upcoming event. It’s “signed” by you, and you include your email so I can get in touch if I have any questions.
Within a week, I receive a physical thank you letter including your signature and a short hand-written note saying thank you.
Next month, I get a welcome packet that invites me to learn more about your organization. It includes a letter sharing your goals for the upcoming year, a story about one of your constituents, and an invitation to your upcoming gala.
Now I’m hooked. You’ve invited me to be a part of your organization - not just a nameless donor. I feel like you appreciate my contribution, and am excited about your next event.
Create your new donor welcome packet
Your new donor welcome packet is a powerful donor retention tool. Keeping them involved and engaged after their first donation is the best way to strengthen your relationship with new donors and convert them into long-time supporters.
A hand-signed thank you/welcome letter from the Executive Director, outlining where and how a donor’s gift is making an impact, and outlining your goals for the upcoming year. Bonus points if it’s signed in real ink and includes a short, handwritten note. Something like “thanks again for choosing to invest in us. Cheers!” is enough.
A constituent profile or story about your work. Bring your mission to life for your new donor and walk them through exactly what it is, and why it matters.
A one page fact sheet about your organization, or a copy of your recent marketing collateral.
An invitation to any upcoming events that you might have.
Your new donor welcome packet might include a full-color four-page newsletter and a snazzy bookmark. Or it might just be a few pages: a sincere letter, constituent story, and organizational overview. No matter how simple, or how fancy, what matters is reaching out to engage your new donors in a way that is authentic and allows them to continue to learn about your work.
To get you started, here’s a free new donor welcome packet checklist from Giant Squid Group that walks you through what you can include to make your new donor welcome packet a reality right now.
I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what you - both as a fundraiser and a donor - have experienced as a first-time donor, and how you’ll work to knock your donors’ socks off this year!