4 Simple Steps to Convert New Donors to Recurring - Auxilia

Posted by Ayanna Rutherford on 16.6.2020

Thank you note is a simple way to engage and keep your donors loyal.

Bringing on a new donor is exciting.  New donors help your organization grow and survive.  The first 90 days of your relationship with a new donor can determine if they will be a long-term supporter that will help you thrive.  Here are some steps to convert your new donor into a recurring donor.

Say thank you

Sending an acknowledgment after receiving a donation is one of the most important parts of fundraising.  Expressing gratitude is the first step to building a relationship with your donors.  Your thank you letter should provide the donor with information on the impact of their giving. 

For example, if your donor participated in a campaign to send girls to camp, your thank you letter should explain how their contribution ensured that the girls could to attend camp. Offer details like the name of the campsite and the number of participants. 

Say hi

A great time to check-in with a new donor is one month after their contribution.  There are a few ways to do this.

The first is picking up the phone to say thank you.  Calls to new donors can come from the executive director, board members, or the development team. 

Organizations with a large donor base and limited bandwidth to make calls to donors can outsource these calls to a call center.  The call center approach provides your donors with a high touch experience while saving you time. 

Three Rules for Calls

There are three rules you need to apply to get the most out of your calls.  The first is to have executive directors make personal calls to donors who make large donations.  The second rule is to make sure each caller gets to know the donor. The caller needs to ask the donor about their motivation for giving and work to understand their commitment to your cause.  The third rule is that each caller takes notes on everything they learn about the donor. Notes will help the next caller get a greater understanding of the donor. 

Writing a letter is another way to build a relationship with your donors.  Personal letters from board members, executive directors, and your development team are a nice way to engage new donors. Depending on your services and program structure, you could have your program participants write letters or send thank you cards with personal notes. 

Large donors should receive a personal letter and call from the Executive Director.

Give a program status update  

Sending a program status update two months after a donor's first contribution is another way to cultivate relationships with donors.  This update helps the new donor feel connected to your organization.  Your program status update needs to highlight major successes and upcoming events.  This is the time for you to revisit the value of their donation to your organization.

Ask them to upgrade

If you want to convert a new donor to a recurring donor, you have to make the ask.  After building rapport for the last three months, now is the time to ask them to upgrade their contribution to a recurring gift.  Be sure that you have a recurring giving program in place before asking your donor to commit. New donors who convert to recurring should receive a gift for their ongoing contribution.  Those gifts could vary from lapel pins with your logo to umbrellas branded by your organization.  Be sure to thank your recurring donors throughout the year to improve your donor retention.

Need help managing new donors?  Contact Auxilia today!

Photo Credit:  Kelly Sikkema

Topics: Board Member, Donor Relationships, Resources, Recurring