In my experience, nonprofit fundraisers seeking to secure a repeat or increased gift from a donor – especially one who made a first and/or modest gift – too often jump to the conclusion that if a donor gave to (fill in your cause or special campaign here) they are likely to continue to give to the cause that prompted that initial donation. So, just keep asking them over and over again. Or at least, as this line of thinking goes, make sure that the next appeal to the donor is closely aligned to their giving history. But why? Just as I don’t make a diet solely of tuna salad, donors may not want to simply continue giving to the same old thing. They just might be interested is seeing the full menu of giving opportunities.
A new donor may have responded to an appeal for any one of a dozen reasons – because a friend asked her to contribute; because the request came at a critical moment; because she heard that the organization was struggling to close its campaign on target …..
If your organization handled her gift well (sent an acknowledgement on time along with a personalized note of thanks and maybe some follow up material to help her learn more about you), realize that you have just opened the door to the beginning of a real relationship and one that will allow the donor to form a deeper opinion of your organization. An opinion that lead to an interest to give to other areas of your organization.
Try to look at each donor (even the modest ones) as well-rounded, multi-dimensional individuals who just might have lots of interests and the curiosity to learn more and give more once they have the information and insights needed to write that next check. Just because they gave to your fund for human justice doesn’t mean they are not interested in your new program to care for young families in need. Think about a strategy that builds off the tuna salad special and leads to the smart presentation of the full menu. Donors won’t order everything on the menu but they will enjoy knowing that there are lots of great items to choose from. Like any smart restaurateur knows, you have to whet the customer’s appetite and hope that they find the meal, the menu, the service and the experience one worth returning for.
Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional who currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.