The Importance of Obtaining a Second Gift

April 5, 2021

Why should you focus on securing a second gift?

Your organization has spent valuable time acquiring new donors, and you should feel motivated to urge those donors to become regular contributors to your cause. One of the most important steps toward growing your nonprofit is taking a focused, cross-channel approach to nurturing new donors so that they feel good about their initial gift. By doing so, you can show them that even more can be done to support their community with their help.

According to data reported by Bloomerang from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the greatest factor affecting donor retention is the second gift.

“Once a donor donates the second time, we have moved beyond impulse giving from special event purchases or memorial/tribute gifts. They are now truly supporting your mission by consciously choosing to provide funds.” – Jay Love, Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang.

Once a donor donates the second time, we have moved beyond impulse giving from special event purchases or memorial/tribute gifts. They are now truly supporting your mission by consciously choosing to provide funds.

Bloomerang reports that nearly 70% of new donors only give once, often leaving a loss of the investment spent acquiring that new donor. However, once a donor has given a second gift, over 60% will donate again. This is why the second gift is critical.

When is the right time to ask for the second gift?

We’ve learned that it is more about how you ask rather than when you ask. This is because the most important question on your mind should always be, “How am I forming a solid relationship with my donors?” We find that the first step toward building these connections is by thanking the donor.

The very first communication your donor should receive following their initial gift is an expression of your gratitude. You should then welcome them into your organization and provide them with additional information about your principles, successes and goals. These practices will lead the donor to feel part of your philanthropic community and inspired to contribute to your mission. While it is important to specifically ask for a second gift through your current mail program, it is crucial to have other touchpoints used to connect with the donor while not directly asking for another donation.

How can you get your donors to give a second time?

“How to get donors to give” is the million-dollar question that causes all nonprofits to scratch their heads. Our best advice is this: In whatever you do, have a strategy and a plan. Obtaining a second gift from your donors is all about making them feel valued. Let’s explore the steps your organization can take to encourage future support from your current donors.

  1. Express Gratitude
    Personalized thank-yous go a long way in making donors feel valued and appreciated. Prioritize thanking your donors swiftly, emphasizing your first-time contributors. By thoughtfully thanking your donors for their gift, big or small, they will believe in the sincerity of your gratitude when you ask them to give again. 
    Consider the many different ways to thank your donors:
    • Emails
    • Phone (Calls or Texts)
    • Social Media Posts
    • Letters
    • Hand-written Cards
    • Branded Items (magnets, placemats, mugs, apparel, etc.)
  2. Personalize Your Communications
    It’s important that your donor feels like an individual, not another face in the crowd. For first-time donors, consider sending welcome surveys about their experiences and ask what programs inspire them. When you acquire new donors, you should gather information about their likes and interests; that way, you can specifically cater to their passions.
  3. Form a Connection
    There are many ways to foster a connection with your donors, and the previous two steps will undoubtedly help to do so. A great relationship between the donor and nonprofit is built upon the donor’s assurance that they can trust the organization and their money is being put to good use.

    Here are a few ways you can continue to strengthen your connection with your donors:

    • Celebrate their first gift and their support of your cause.
    • Invite them for a tour of your facility so that they feel valued and involved.
    • Present them with opportunities to contribute to your mission that aren’t monetary.
    • Ask for feedback when they volunteer and collect individual testimony of their experience.

Securing a second gift is vital to the growth of your organization. Remember to use careful planning and stewardship to ensure the best results from your second ask. And once you’ve received a second gift, thank them again for their continued support. In no time, your impulse-donors will become dedicated contributors to your cause!