The absolute worst thing you can do the day after #GivingTuesday is nothing.
As tempting as it is to let out a sigh of relief that it’s over, resist that temptation.
It’s not time to relax yet.
Nothing comes of nothing.
And a huge part of your goal with #GivingTuesday should be to strengthen your bonds with donors. That’s the real something you’re after.
It’s not just about the money you raise today.
Your goal with any fundraising strategy is to retain and, ultimately, upgrade these transactional donors. The name of the game in the business of sustainable fundraising is lifetime donor value. [Here’s a great book on the topic: Building Donor Loyalty: The Fundraiser’s Guide to Increasing Lifetime Value.]
Treat #GivingTuesday as a Special Event
Like it or not #GivingTuesday is a ‘special event.’(And I don’t really like it, which is why I recommend #GratitudeTuesday as an alternative).You likely put a fair amount of planning, resources and time into this event, involving the attention of more than one staffer and/or volunteer. And it sucks time away from almost everything else in the week(s) leading up to it.
It can be a real drain.
Your job is to put a stopper in that drain so all your hard work doesn’t simply swirl down the drain and disappear. That’s like working super hard to create a delicious soup you simmer over the stove for hours, maybe even days, and then you take one little taste before you pour it out and start all over again with a new one. Endless work. And no one really gets to enjoy the meal.
Take Time for Everyone Involved to Savor the Fruits of Your Labor
Like any special event, you should have a complete, written strategic plan for before, during and after the event. The week following should be spent in a flurry of critically important activity:
- Enter data right away
- Thank donors, volunteers, sponsors and anyone who helped right away
- Report back to constituents on your results
- Evaluate what worked/didn’t work before you forget the details
- Consider, and calendar, appropriate follow-up strategies you’ll employ over the course of the next 12 months (ideally you should have already done this, but if not… do it now).
- Make recommendations for next year’s ‘event,’ now, while everything is fresh in your mind.
Let’s look at some specific things you should plan to do so the work you put into this one day of the calendar year is worth the effort over the longer term.
Send an Immediate Personal Thank You to Donors
This is something you should do upon receipt of any gift.
And it’s something you can plan in advance, so you’re all ready to go! Do NOT wait until Wednesday to begin to think about writing a thank you message.
HERE’S A GOOD PLAN:
If they give online, send a thank you that way. And not just an automated-looking receipt.
- Send online donors immediately to a custom, branded donation thank you page with messaging and images tied to your appeal. This reassures them their gift was received and will be used as intended.
- Then follow up right away with an email, text or social media thank you (depending on the platform they used to make the gift). Personalize this to the extent possible by using their first name. You can even prepare a 15-second video thank you (use your cell phone to film yourself saying thanks so much!)
If they give via snail mail, send a thank you that way. And don’t delay!
- Send offline donors a letter within 48 hours.
- Consider making a phone call right away. You can leave a message if you don’t get them in person. And if you can’t call everyone, pick a subset of folks to call (e.g., all gifts over $100; all repeat donors; all first-time donors, etc.). Leah Eustace at Good Works found “A one-minute thank-you call to new donors increased conversion by over 30%.“
[For more on How to Thank Your Donors the Right Way listen to this Fundraising Authority podcast with me and Joe Garecht.]
Send a Group Thank You to Donors, Sponsors, Volunteers and Staff within 48 Hours
It’s always important to close the loop for everyone who participated in making this event a success. Appeals usually dwell on how bad everything is. Then donors give, and rarely do they receive the courtesy of a follow-up that assures them things are really looking up now. Thanks to them! And as for staff and volunteers, all too often they’re simply taken for granted.
HERE’S A GOOD PLAN:
Thank everyone for the generous outpouring of support you received.
- Let constituents know specific results (e.g., how many people donated and/or how much money was raised; that you made your challenge; that you raised more than your goal and/or more than last year).
- Be sure to share what you’ll be able to accomplish as a result.
- Remind folks who’ve not yet participated that they still have time to invest and become part of your movement/family/community of folks who care.
Send a Follow-up Thank You/Report within Two Weeks
You really can’t overdo it with thank you’s. Or impact reports. People need to be reassured they made a good decision when they invested with you. Or shared your appeal with their networks. And they need fresh doses of ‘warm glow’ dopamine. Research shows philanthropy makes people feel good. It’s a chemical reaction. But, alas, it doesn’t last. It’s your job to keep folks feeling good if you want to build a lasting relationship and set them up to make future gifts.
HERE’S A GOOD PLAN:
Gather some stories of people (or animals, places or things) that will be helped as a result of the funds raised on #GivingTuesday. Don’t just send statistics. People are wired for stories and will be drawn into them. Data just causes eyes to roll back in sockets. Remember: You’re striving for a connection. Not just something, anything, you send out; then check off your list as ‘done.’
- Include a story in your next e-newsletter or blog
- Post a story to your website (either photo + caption + text or brief video), and send donors a link via email, text or social media.
- Email a story.
By the way, it’s okay to include a DONATE button at the end of every story. Make it a soft ask. If you tell stories well, you absolutely will generate some additional donations. And, by so doing, you’ll be giving folks another shot of ‘feel good’ dopamine. Win/win.
Ask #GivingTuesday Donors to Consider Making Their Gift Monthly
By now I hope you know why you should be promoting recurring giving: monthly donors tend to renew at a rate of 90%, while other ongoing donors renew at a rate of 60% and first-time donors renew at a rate of just 23%.
HERE’S A GOOD PLAN:
- Ask new donors to consider making their gift monthly to support your mission in the coming year. Research shows donors are most likely to give again within 90 days of making a gift, so this is a prime time to make this ask. Plus, it’s right before the end of the calendar year – a time when folks tend to feel the most generous and philanthropic. Segment your donor list and pull out folks who made their first gift on #GivingTuesday (you may want to exclude large donors, for whom this would seem like an excessive ask at this point). Then send these supporters a tailored monthly giving appeal, rather than whatever year-end appeal you’re planning to send to the rest of your list.
- Ask smaller donors to consider converting to monthly giving. If you have repeat donors who give smaller amounts one or more times a year, this is a great time to ask them to formalize a recurring giving commitment. It’s convenient for them, and it enables you to rely on their support moving forward.
All work and no play makes a dull culture.
You worked hard! Give yourself, and those who helped you, some well-deserved hugs and pats on the back. Even if you didn’t reach your goal, you can still celebrate the fact that you tried.
Failure is success too, as long as you learn and grow.
HERE’S A GOOD PLAN:
- Bring in treats the next morning as a thank you for everyone who made it happen. Or order in pizza for lunch. Maybe even turn on some music and dance around the room!
- Schedule a debriefing meeting sometime within the next two weeks. Bring refreshments and/or token thank you gifts (even a single rose for everyone will do the trick).
- Brainstorm recommendations for next year and put them up on a white board so everyone feels they can have a say. Make sure to elicit comments from everyone, not just the loudest voices in the room.
- Send a brief survey to volunteers who helped and ask for their feedback as well.
- Let everyone know they’ll be invited to a ‘planning party’ for next year, perhaps some time in the spring when you’re doing your budgeting and creating your work plans. This gets key stakeholders on board, keeps folks inspired and helps insure your success moving forward.
Don’t forget #GivingTuesday was created as a post-Thanksgiving event. It’s a time for gratitude. Big time. Whether you go the #GivingTuesday or #GratitudeTuesday route, make sure you shower the people you love – and who make your work possible – with love. Show them the way that you feel.
Grab Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors for 62 ideas!
Acquisition is simply a foot in the door.
Retention is the name of the game. And what do donors want most?
A heartfelt thank you!
Simply put, creative thank you’s will inspire future gifts.
This E-Workbook will provide you with everything you need to knock your donors’ socks off.
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