Every year, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows that for every 100 donors nonprofits gained, we lose about 103, a negative 3% growth. We can and should be grateful to each and every new donor who comes through our doors, our websites, who calls, or sends us a check.
So how do we keep our donors and make them feel appreciated?
A few weeks ago, Russell, my husband, and I visited a new church. As we were leaving the church, a church member gave us with a loaf of homemade bread.
What a nice welcome gift–nourishing, tasty, symbolic, thoughtful. It also served as an ice-breaker. Someone walked up to us and handed us the bread and struck up a conversation. This church did a great job of extending hospitality. We felt welcome.
That’s what you want your donor to feel—like you’ve just handed them a loaf of warm, homemade bread and told them you are really glad they showed up on a cold, rainy Sunday morning.
The church members who spoke to us asked what had brought us there that morning. They told us about some of their Sunday school classes and programs where we might fit in. They gave us a newsletter so we’d have the church’s web address and could find the current schedule and more information about their programs. They told us they’d love for us to come back.
This is a great model for a new donor welcome kit. Share some information—like a brochure or a recent newsletter or annual report. Give your new donor some information about your leadership. Your donors care about who your leadership is. Share with them the ways they can get involved, like volunteer opportunities or monthly giving opportunities. Let them know that you’d love to hear from them and have them come back.
A couple of other great items that you might consider adding to a new donor welcome kit include a drawing or piece of art from a child you serve (which you can print copies of), a picture of a client graduating, a story of a client’s success, or a picture of an endangered species you are working to save.
Assemble your new donor welcome kits in advance so you’re not scrambling to put them together when a new donor comes to your organization. You want to be able to welcome your donor right away. The church we visited didn’t give us stale bread the day we visited, but fresh. It had a team of volunteers who baked the bread weekly. Your new donor welcome kit is a great volunteer project for your organization as well. Recruit some volunteers to help you assemble them.
If you do a lot of communication with your donors digitally, consider sending a welcome email with a Virtual Tour. See this Nonprofit Times article by Craig Depole on how to do a welcome virtual tour. http://www.nonprofitpro.com/article/how-welcoming-is-your-donor-welcome-package/1/. Depole writes about how you can walk your new donors through key pages of your website, showing them how they can get involved, encouraging feedback, demonstrating transparency, and demonstrating your expertise and success.
Whether you do it virtually or through the postal system (or both), you want your donors to feel welcome. Think: warm, fresh, homemade bread—plain, simple, humble, but sincere and effective—that’s what our new donor welcome kits need to be. We want our new donors to settle in and feel at home.
This post was originally published in 2016. It has been re-published by request after a website migration made it necessary to re-built the post’s text.