Mindy Sherfy

QUICK SHOT: Inspire your donors to give again… and again

The pandemic has posed serious challenges for many nonprofits. At the same time, organizations whose core services align with coronavirus relief efforts have experienced an increase in support from both repeat givers and new donors.

As development professionals look to build their next fiscal year budget, one of the questions many are asking is “Who are these new donors? Are they people who embrace the mission of my organization or are they the infamous disaster donors?”

What they really want to know is: Will these donors continue their support?

On average, 30-40% of new donors will give a second gift to your organization – and that percentage drops even lower for disaster donors. So whether you’re a seasoned fundraiser or just getting started, revisiting your organization’s second gift conversion strategy is always prudent, but even more so as you navigate year two of the pandemic.

Donor retention reflects the direct, quantifiable pathways you build for new donors to continue their support.¹

How are you engaging your new donors and inspiring them to give again and again and again? Here are my suggestions:

1. Send a thank you note with receipt ASAP

Don’t forget to review and update your thank you messaging – it should be relevant, express gratitude and share the impact of the donor’s generosity.

2. Make a Thank You Call

An article in Network for Good cited thank you donor calls as “one of the most under-used ways to thank donors which has a lasting impact!”² This call should be brief, but sincere. Simply tell the donor how much you appreciate their gift.

While many organizations have these first two tips down to a science, they fall short of winning the hearts of their new donors because they stop there. So don’t stop there!

3. Connect with the donor on a personal level with a relational touch within the first two to three weeks of their initial gift.

  • Ask the donor for feedback. Send them a short survey to learn what motivates their giving? What are their passions? This says to the donor you care about them!
  • Mail a welcome kit. This might include a brochure or newsletter. Help donors understand the depth and breadth of the work your organization does.
  • Send a postcard to invite donors to tour your facilities. It’s a chance for them to see firsthand the good their gift makes possible. While onsite tours may not be possible right now, include a QR code on your postcard that links them to a virtual tour on your website.

4. Utilize the power of digital channels to become part of your donor’s inner-circle of friends.

  • Deploy a multi-part digital welcome series that tells new donors the story of your organization and the people you serve. Make it fun! And to make it a conversation, invite their responses.
  • Upload your new donors to Facebook and other social media sites and serve them ads that reinforce your organization’s key messages.
  • Send new donors a personalized and timely video across email and/or text that helps them experience your vision and mission.
  • Invite them to post their reason for giving on your social media pages.

Remember to include online channels for offline donors and vice versa! Donors who are cultivated through a multi-channel approach produce a higher long-term value.

5. Host a Tele-Town Hall Meeting

Give your President/CEO the opportunity to interact live with your new donors. Tele-town halls are a great tool for sharing information with your new donors and for collecting information about them.

6. Thank Them… Again

You can’t say “thank you” too many times!

Remember: Once a new donor makes a second gift, their multi-year retention rate jumps to 70-80%. With that in mind, employ these second-gift strategies at your organization to do everything you can to get that all-important second gift that will inspire donors to give again… and again!


  • Mindy Sherfy

    Mindy Sherfy, Vice President, Client Strategy

    Mindy Sherfy, Vice President of Client Strategy

    Mindy Sherfy brings to the table more than 30 years of experience in direct marketing and strategic nonprofit fundraising. She has had the opportunity to work with many Rescue Missions, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Eternal Word Television Network and The Salvation Army. Prior to joining BDI, she served as a Senior Account Director at The Lukens Company.

    As Vice President of Client Strategy, Mindy is dedicated to the success of our regional and national accounts. Her extensive experience in the industry drives BDI’s ability to offer direct response marketing and fundraising best practices to our client partners. Mindy leads a team of Account Directors, Executives and Specialists in building trusted-advisor partnerships and overseeing the development and execution of multi-channel, integrated marketing plans that meet client needs and goals. She also serves on the agency’s Executive Team, providing leadership in growth goals, process improvement, reporting and agency offerings.

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