It’s time to renew

August 31, 2017

If you work for an organization that achieved significant gains in new donors in the wake of last year’s election, hopefully you’ve been hard at work all year –

  • Welcoming your new donors
  • Engaging them and demonstrating the impact of their support
  • Thanking them more than once
  • Converting them to monthly donors

Stats on new donor participation in a second year are not good. The more urgent and crisis-oriented the initial fundraising was, the lower the retention tends to be. That’s why a first year of strong cultivation matters so much.

Whether your organization was a perfect steward of this generosity or not, the next four months are what matter now.

Here are a few strategies for action:

  • Don’t wait until the donor’s anniversary. Ask for a renewed donation at least three months in advance. Ask in the mail at least once a month, all through and beyond their anniversary date. Ask in email far more often.
  • Don’t assume that your traditional renewal or anniversary fundraising packages and appeals will work for these donors. There’s a lot of emotion involved in first-time politically-motivated giving, and a traditional appeal doesn’t tend to help donors revisit those feelings.
  • Do create special campaigns and appeal elements designed to remind these donors why they gave in the first place.
  • Do increase the emotion/urgency factor in your appeals.
  • Do remind donors, using powerful examples, that there is work yet to be done.
  • Do create deadlines and urgency, and seek opportunities to use special techniques like challenges to secure a second donation.

Rapid circumstantial gains in a program are exciting. They can help an organization grow to new heights of impact.

But only if the gains can be retained and built upon.