5 reasons you might be missing repeat donors

22 Apr


Earlier this month npENGAGE reported that 3 out of four first-time donors to nonprofits never make a second gift. The article suggests that the reason for this is that these first-time donors are treated as spectators and not as investors. The report also tells us that first-time donors also “low-ball” their donations.

I imagine that there’s no secret, single reason for this low rate of repeat gifts but from my point-of-view I see 5 reasons for why this may be happening. Again, just my point-of-view on this issue of low repeat donations.

Reason 1) their second donation is no easier than the first

What’s this mean? How much would you shop at Amazon or iTunes or other places online where you have to enter all your information over and over and over again? Answer: not much and you would likely value an easy shopping experience elsewhere. In the for-profit world businesses compete on the shopping experience as much as they compete on selection and price.

In the nonprofit world all nonprofits need to seek online solutions that offer the ability for safe and secure PCI compliant storage of donor information so the donors’ repeat gifts take less time than their first donation. Let them store their info securely at their option to make their second, third, etc gifts easier than the first.

2) you try to convert them from digital to direct mail

Perhaps one of the silliest things I’ve ever heard came from a nonprofit expert last year who said, and I kid you not, “mobile donors are fickle-you need to convert them to direct mail”.

Uh, right. Perhaps they made a mobile gift because they don’t have a checkbook or that they don’t like the idea of handing their credit card info to a stranger on a form they filled out. They may have in fact chosen to give via mobile precisely because they want to send you a message-enough with the mail!

Right now I know where my phone is and I can use it to give. I have no clue where my checkbook is nor do I know if I have any stamps.

3) you don’t let their second gift come from someone else’s ask

There’s a great deal of chatter in the nonprofit industry about the growing importance of crowd-funding. Now there are many flavors of crowd-funding and the one we like here at RAZ Mobile is the one where you empower a supporter with the ability to ask their friends, family, co-workers and social followers for a donation to your cause.

Why do this? Many good reasons. 1) research suggests that your supporters ask is much more powerful than your own, 2) 70% of millennials will ask for help on your behalf and, 3) if the ask always comes from you there’s a chance that you’ll just keep asking the same people over and over versus the new supporters and donors you can meet via empowering others to ask on your behalf.

4) you compete with other causes at the end of the year

Nonprofits tend to focus on the “year-end appeal” and this means an inbox and mailbox full of choices for donors at year’s end. My advice is to work to avoid competition with other nonprofits and focus on making your donations more distributed throughout the year. One of the best places to do this is via social media and the vast majority of social media content is consumed on mobile phones. This also means not selling address lists to other nonprofits to make an extra buck. I can’t tell you the number of times I have wondered how I end up getting mail from causes I’ve never heard of.

5) you don’t ask them to join the conversation in social media

As odd as it sounds there are still nonprofits on the fence about using social media. My sense is that the board doesn’t use social media and therefore does not see value in it. And yet, text-messaging, email and the phone itself are social mediums so their disdain for Twitter, Facebook, et al is misguided.

Your nonprofit needs to be on social media for 3 reasons. 1) billions of people are on social media, 2) increasingly supporters go to social media to learn about you there and not your PC site and, 3) social media content is snack-sized which is one of the reasons it’s popular in our multi-channel, information overloaded world.

A growing list of donors that have made more than one gift is like nonprofit Nirvana. It is my hope that these reasons, while not comprehensive nor intended to be comprehensive, help spur some thought about new tactics to be deployed and old behaviors that can be abandoned.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.


2 Responses to “5 reasons you might be missing repeat donors”

  1. Miss B June 3, 2014 at 1:57 PM #

    Great read! You bring up some interesting points, I especially like #1 about making the experience easier for the donor. They want a smooth experience and they don’t want to be hassled. After all, they are funding the cause!

    I also like #5 “My sense is that the board doesn’t use social media and therefore does not see value in it.” As a public admin grad student and a member of a board, I’m always concerned about board diversity. Many organizations seem to have older generations of folks who look down on, or simply do not understand social media. When generations and backgrounds are diversified to include this type of expertise, everyone benefits.

    • daleknoop June 3, 2014 at 2:49 PM #

      Thanks Miss B for your comments and great feedback. We’ve seen some older organizations struggle with our platform and some younger ones do very, very well. I have noticed that older staffs at nonprofits tend to have older donors and this is very troubling. Younger staffers need to be empowered to go with what they know and experiment because the future depends on it and the future will rely deeply on mobile experiences. Please let us know if you’d ever like a demo of our platform.

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