For the last decade, nonprofit fundraisers have spent each November preparing for Giving Tuesday. We write emails and social media posts. We get major donors to offer matching grants and gifts. We create graphics and carefully crafted descriptions of our organization’s goals and impact.
But what we don’t do is prepare just as intensively for how we are going to retain our Giving Tuesday donors—and turn them into long-term sustainers.
As nonprofit fundraisers, we should stop thinking of Giving Tuesday (and year-end appeals) as the main dish on our annual donor menu. Instead, we should treat these big fundraising moments as appetizers.
Because the true key to sustainable fundraising is donor retention. And that requires consistently sharing your impact, expressing your gratitude, and providing opportunities to support your organization.
Here are four ways to jumpstart your Giving Tuesday donor cultivation:
1) Rethink Your Giving Tuesday Thank You Email
An email donation receipt, which most online giving tools automatically provide, is simply not enough. Yes, you want to be sure those automations are set up. But you also need to craft a more in-depth and heartfelt thank you email to send to donors shortly after Giving Tuesday.
Let your donors know how their contribution will make an impact. For example, if your Giving Tuesday was a success, consider sharing the total your organization raised and what it will help you accomplish (such as the number of people served or programs supported). For new donors who may not be familiar with your organization, keep in mind this is the start of your relationship. Give them a chance to get to know your organization.
2) Welcome New Donors
Any time you receive an online contribution from a new donor, you should be welcoming them to your organization. If you want first-time donors to become sustaining contributors (which you do!), then you need to make them feel like part of your community.
Consider developing an email series to introduce new donors to your organization. Over two to three emails, you can share your organization’s mission and impact—and how your donors help make it all happen.
Once it’s ready, you can even automate this welcome sequence. At the end, these new donors can be added to your general mailing list.
3) Reach Out to Existing Donors
Many of us spend time reaching out to existing donors in advance of Giving Tuesday and our year-end campaigns. We try to secure commitments for annual giving or even matching gifts. But reaching out after the gift is just as important.
These are people you know are committed to your organization because they have already given multiple gifts over time. Consider a second round of outreach after your thoughtful thank you letter. In addition to continuing to share impact, you can encourage donors to get involved beyond writing a check. For example, you can share volunteer opportunities, invitations to virtual events, or opportunities to support your organization through things like running Facebook fundraisers.
For donors who made larger gifts, you’ll want to conduct personalized outreach as well, like a phone call or hand-written thank you card.
4) Build Toward a Second Ask – Prioritizing Monthly Giving
If you want to turn a first-time donor into a long-time supporter, the second gift is key. Research shows that once new donors make that second gift, they are 63% more likely to continue donating.
Remember, you don’t want to make this second ask until you have welcomed new donors to your organization and helped them see how their gift really matters. The month between Giving Tuesday and the end of the year is the perfect time to make sure this happens. When it comes to the ask itself, segmenting donors who have already given during the same year can help you be both direct and thoughtful in asking for a second gift for the year.
You will also want to give donors the option of becoming sustaining donors through a monthly gift. Moving donors from annual to monthly giving helps you create a more consistent revenue stream and a more engaged donor base. Monthly giving increased 11% in 2022 and now accounts for nearly a third of annual online giving. All to say: donors are increasingly familiar with and comfortable with signing up for monthly contributions, so be sure to ask!