How to Secure a Golden Donation: A Step-by-Step Guide to Acquiring a Second Donation

goldendonationWhat is a “golden donation”? Great question!

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2015 Survey, only 19% of new donors give again after their first donation.

However, once a new donor gives a second time, 63% will give again.

That second donation, the one that means that a donor will be more than three times as likely to give again, is the sought-after golden donation.

The question that’s plaguing every nonprofit out there (whether they’ll admit to it or not) is, “How do we get our first-time donors from Point A to Point B? How do we get them to donate a second time?”

It’s a fantastic question–and one that a lot of people have tried to answer.

Luckily for you, we’ve created the ultimate guide to snagging a golden donation. Right here!

Our steps are laid out for you here. Click on any of these links to jump ahead:

#1. Have a First-time Donor Communications Strategy
#2. Remember to Thank Your Donors
#3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
#4. Ask for Donations that Aren’t Monetary
#5. Deliver on Your Promises
#6. Ask for the Golden Donation!

Time is of the essence. Let’s get started!

firsttimestrategy#1. Have a First-time Donor Communications Strategy

You’ve spent the time, money, and effort to acquire your new donors.

Now is not the time to give up on those new donors in favor of finding more, newer donors.

It’s time to hunker down and apply a strategic approach to donor retention.

The more donor-centric your communications strategy is, the better.

A donor-centric communications strategy means:

  • Welcoming your new donors.
  • Sending them surveys about their experiences.
  • Improving the way you communicate with each donor (based on your surveys).
  • Informing them of your current projects (and how they can be an integral part).
  • Making them feel involved in decision-making.
  • Thanking them.*

While you’re employing all of these strategies, make sure that you’re shifting the conversation from “I” or “We” to “You.”

Don’t you hate when you’re talking to someone and you can’t seem to get a word in edgewise because the person you’re with can only seem to say:

“Me. Me. Me. I. I. I. I. I’m so great. What about you? What do you think about me?”

Don’t get us wrong.

First-time donors care about your organization, but more than that, they care about how they can be a part of something greater than themselves.

When you send out communications, do a double-take to make sure that you’re focusing on them and not on your own organization.

That’s not to say that you can’t talk about all of the awesome things you’re doing!

Just be sure that the conversation you’re having with your donors isn’t a one-sided brag session. Make them feel like their opinion matters. Because it does!

When first-time donors feel like their voices are being heard, they are far more likely to donate a second time.

*This is the most important item in the list!

thankyourdonors#2. Remember to Thank Your Donors

You probably already know that you should always thank your donors.

You learned that in Fundraising 101.

But did you know that the first 48 hours are the most important window of opportunity for your organization?

The more quickly you respond to your first-time donors, the more likely they’ll be to pay attention to your future correspondences (including any future asks you may make).

No matter how small the gift is, you need to thank your donors in at least one way. You’ll need to thank all of your donors immediately. And for good measure, be sure to thank your first-time donors in a more thoughtful way.

Thank your donors immediately using:

  • Emails. Shooting your first-time donor a quick “Thank you so much. Your contribution means the world to us” email ensures that they know you care.
  • Phone calls. A phone call to thank your donors can go a long way. Of course, if a first-time donor gives to your organization over the phone, you can thank them right then and there! Make sure you also follow up with them in another way to show your gratitude.
  • Texts. One of the best features of text-to-give technology is that it allows your nonprofit to thank your donors instantaneously.
  • Social media. You can use social media in a myriad of different ways. Show your appreciation for all of your donors at once with a tweet, a post, or a pin. For more on how to use social media to increase the likelihood of scoring a golden donation, skip ahead to #3.

Thank your donors in a more thoughtful way with:

  • A handwritten letter. Show you genuinely care with a heartfelt thank you letter. Letters are a fantastic way to say thank you and to let your first-time donors know what you’re all about. Make sure you include the signature of someone in the leadership of your nonprofit.
  • Photographs of the work you’re doing. Donors really enjoy evidence of the good that their contributions are doing in the world. Who knows? Your pictures could end up on your donors’ fridges!
  • Get creative with your thank you’s! Personalize your approaches for the best results.

Thanking your donors is one sure-fire way to secure a golden donation.

socialmedia#3. Use Social Media to Your Advantage


Chances are your donors, both first-time supporters and lifelong devotees, are aware of your social media presence.

If a first-time donor clicks “Like” on your Facebook page, hits “Follow” on your Twitter feed, or requests to “Follow” you on Instagram, they will see your content on a daily or weekly basis.

Regardless of whether you post every day or once every two weeks, you can’t deny that social media is a powerful tool.

As with any other powerful communication tool, you need to know how to use it properly before it can help you achieve your goals.

When it comes to using social media to the fullest, you want to be channel-specific, not channel-agnostic.

Make sure your message is reaching the right people at the right time in the right way.

This means optimizing the time you post on each separate social media (yes, they do vary quite a bit) as well as optimizing the way you present your message on each platform.

There is an optimal time to post, tweet, and pin:

  • Facebook: Posting status updates from 1-4 PM during the week. Wednesday at 3 PM is the absolute peak time.
  • Twitter: Send out your tweets Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 3 PM. The peak time on any of those days is anywhere between 1 PM and 3 PM.
  • Instagram: 2 AM and 5 PM are the best times to post photos on Instagram. Wednesday is the best day of the week.
  • Tumblr: Posting on Friday evenings at 7 PM will drive the most conversions. Posting at this hour will receive the most clicks over a 24-hour period.
  • Pinterest: Saturday mornings are the prime time for Pinterest.
  • Google+: The best time to post on Google+ is 9 AM to 10 AM on workdays.
  • LinkedIn: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the workday. The optimal times within those three days are at noon, 5 PM, and 6 PM.

There is also, conversely, a least optimal time to post on social media:

  • Facebook: Don’t bother posting on Facebook on the weekends, before 8 AM, or after 8 PM. You won’t see results at these times.
  • Twitter: Tweeting after 8 PM falls on deaf ears. But Friday after 3 PM is the absolute worst time to send out a tweet.
  • Instagram: Sundays are weak for Instagram, and 3 PM to 4 PM is the worst hour for posting.
  • Tumblr: The worst time to post on Tumblr is anytime before 4 PM.
  • Pinterest: Don’t pin during the workday.
  • Google+: The worst time to update your Google+ is early in the morning (before 9 AM) and anytime in the evening.
  • LinkedIn: Don’t post on LinkedIn Mondays or Fridays between 10 PM and 6 AM.

To make the most out of each social media site and application, you’ll need to customize your approach to each.

How do you customize your approach?

By following these simple rules, you can master any social media site:

  • Facebook: Images and videos are king on Facebook. Make sure that you’re including a visual of some kind in every post you craft.
  • Twitter: You only have 140 characters per post. Choose only the most relevant information to include. Including an element of humor also boosts engagement.
  • Instagram: Since it’s a visual medium, be sure that your photographic composition is aesthetically pleasing. In order to make the most of Instagram, be sure to hashtag topics that are relevant to your cause.
  • Tumblr: To get the most “reblogs” and join the conversation in a meaningful way, be sure to “tag” your content with pertinent hashtags. Since Tumblr allows for longer form content, feel free to post your more extensive updates here.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest, although it’s primarily a visual app, is more of a storytelling avenue for your nonprofit. To make your content more pinnable, be sure that you’re posting actionable advice.
  • Google+: To increase your exposure on Google+, regularly “+1” content that’s relevant and exciting to your organization.
  • LinkedIn: You can use LinkedIn to look for volunteers with specific skills and expertise, with the help of LinkedIn’s handy search feature. To entice your first-time donors to get more involved with your organization, offer them these opportunities on a consistent basis.

Of course, you don’t need to be on every form of social media known to man. That would be exhausting!

Choose the platforms that make the most sense for your organization. If only one or two of these platforms work for you, that’s perfectly okay.

Even if you only pick one social media channel to focus on, you can still harness that energy to encourage your first-time donors to donate again.

Make them a part of your online conversation, and you’re bound to keep them interested in donating to your organization over time.

notjustmoney#4. Ask for Donations that Aren’t Monetary

This may seem counterintuitive when we’re talking about going after a golden donation.

But trust us.

Most donors want to be valued beyond their capacity to give money.

They want to make use of their passions, interests, and skills.

How do you ask for donations that aren’t monetary?

The key is to mention opportunities and outcomes more than you talk about your needs.

Sure, it’s important to make sure that your donors know that your cause is worthy. But don’t make your needs the focus of your interactions.

Instead, bring your volunteer and advocacy opportunities to the forefront of the conversation.

To get the word out about your volunteer and advocacy opportunities:

  • Send out personalized emails to your first-time donors. Invite them to participate in your upcoming events. Let them know that their skills are valued and that their help would be much appreciated.
  • Create a Facebook event and share it with your followers. Send out invites to all of your new donors. They’ll receive a notification when you invite them. Voila! Connection!
  • Call your most recent supporters to invite them to advocate. Few things are more engaging for a new donor than getting out there and asking for signatures with an organization they care about. So call up your donors and let them know you think they’d be great at it!

How does asking for non-monetary donations help secure your golden donations?

Not only does it prove to your first-time donors that they get a great ROI (return on investment) when they donate to your cause, but it also shows them that you’re concerned with driving real results.

Like all other donors, first-time donors want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful and important.

Once they’ve volunteered with your organization, or advocated for your cause, they’re bound to feel as though they’re an integral part of bringing your mission to life.

When first-time donors sense that they’re valued for what they bring to the table, they feel compelled to continue giving to your cause.

The point is: asking donors to be more than just that encourages them to continue supporting your organization in so many ways.

deliverpromises#5. Deliver on Your Promises

If you promise your donors a gift of some kind, be it a T-shirt or an awesome mug, make sure that it arrives within two weeks of the donation.

Any longer than that, and your donors will likely have forgotten all about it. Or worse yet, they’ll be expecting your gift and be sorely disappointed when it arrives three months later.

If you promise to update your first-time donors on the status of your latest project, be sure to send a targeted email blast to all of your new contributors.

Donors can tell when they’re not being told the truth. Make sure that you keep your communications open and honest.

If you promise to upload a video of the volunteer opportunity that your donors took part in, be timely.

This means paying attention to the best times to post content on various sites. [LINK to #3].

The point is: first-time donors respond well to consistency.

If you make a promise, you had better deliver, or you can expect a sharp drop-off in engagement with your newest contributors.

Likewise, if you make good on all of your promises, your donors are sure to respond well.

goldendonation#6. Ask for the Golden Donation!

The final step in securing a golden donation is just simply to ask for it.

You won’t receive what you never ask for!

When you’re preparing to ask for that second donation, the one that will launch your one-time giver from casual contributor to dedicated donor, you’ll want to:

  • Wait an appropriate amount of time before you reach out. If you ask too soon, you risk looking greedy. If you wait too long, your appeal may not land in the right inbox, mailbox, or voicemail.
  • Reach out in a way that makes sense for the way your donor gave. If they used an email button to donate, you’ll want to email them to ask for that follow-up donation. If they sent you a check in the mail, send them a direct mail appeal.
  • Remember to thank them for their continued support. Gratitude is free, so give it freely!

If you follow these steps, you’ll no doubt see a major spike in continued engagement.

Get out there and get your golden donation!

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