The second gift: When and how to ask again

As challenging as it may be to acquire new donors and a first-time gift, asking for a second gift from your new donor is one of the most important steps you can take for your organization. And it’s not something to put off while you focus on acquisition or attrition—the best time to ask for a second gift is within 60-90 days of their first contribution.

According to Jay Love at Bloomerang, data collected over the past decade by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows the single largest factor effecting donor retention and the single greatest determinant of life-time donor value is the second gift.*

So how do you ask for a second donation without undermining the sincerity of your thank you? It’s important to remember that the emotions involved in each step of charitable giving are all linked.

A blog at** explains the connection:

While we do want to ask quickly for the second gift, we do not want to do so at the expense of depriving the donor of the emotional ROI that comes from seeing the impact of their gift. Quick effective second asks require strong communication of the change the donor’s first gift has made in the lives of those you serve. (Feb. 14, 2012)

The donor feels good when they make a gift to your cause. They feel appreciated and proud when they receive a thank you showing the specific impact of their gift. When given another opportunity to affect the issue that concerns them, they feel connected and inspired to give again, knowing their impact the first time.

Plan to have your Spring Appeal or LYBUNT mailing in homes by the end of March, and you can easily use the Appeal to speak to first-time donors as a separate segment. You’ll have the chance to acknowledge their first gift, show their donation’s impact, and to ask again within the crucial 90-day window.

Two strategies for providing a second gift opportunity during the “honeymoon” phase are to:

  1. Ask for a modest dollar contribution
  2. Ask for a specific issue that you know concerns them

For a second gift, many people like to encourage first-time donors to become monthly sustaining donors with a small automatic gift. A recurring contribution of $5 monthly will already match a $50 prior year donation.

Asking for a gift toward a specific program or issue can be especially effective if they designated their first gift to a particular area of your mission.

For example, if their gift to your hospital was restricted to pediatric care, what about a gift shop charge card for a parent whose child is in long-term care? If they gave to your humane society, ask for a donation that covers a month’s supply of food for a litter of kittens.

Securing another gift through stewardship and a timely and specific second ask is the key to building a long-term relationship with your new donors. And the best part of receiving a second gift? You’ll be able to thank them for caring enough to give again!


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Five Maples helps fundraisers save time, raise more money, and enjoy doing it! Give us a call today for a free consultation. Call Brett, our Director of Nonprofit Practice, at 800-437-7780 ext 102, or Email Us Today!

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