Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

The Most Important Question To Ask A Donor

January 14th, 2014 by Karen Climer

I’m going to assume that in your year-end push for donations you received donations from a few first-time donors.  So now what?  Well, you need to make them second-time donors.  According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, only 27% of those donors will give again.  But once the donor makes a second gift, the likelihood of them making a third gift increases to 70%.

So how do you get them to make a second gift?  For starters, thank them for the first gift.  Regardless of how large your organization is or the amount of the gift, I recommend picking up the phone and calling every first-time donor.  There are two reasons for the call.  First, you want to let them know how much you appreciate their support.  Second, ask them why they gave.  There are hundreds of charities in your locality.  The donor could have picked any of them.  There must be some reason they chose your organization.  The donor who gives because they received help from the organization years ago is different from the donor who gives because it will make our community better in the long-run.  Both of those are different from the person who gives for religious reasons or the person who gives because they want the trinket you are offering.  Don’t assume you know why someone donated – ask them.

Once you have the answer, record it in the database.  Every conversation this donor has with your organization can be geared to their reason.  This will put you on the right track to getting the second gift.

Posted in Acknowledgment, Retention

3 Responses

  1. Elle

    Karen…I like the way you break things down in doable action steps and give examples of possible responses. I have a number of notes from donors who sent in an additional donation because I took the time to call them personally to 1. thank them and 2. to care enough about the reason they selected my organization to support. I have one of the letters framed in my office to remind me the importance of knowing and thanking thy donor! Keep blogging 🙂

  2. Karen Climer


    Thank you for your comments. You know you are doing it right right when someone thanks you for thanking them. Keep up the good work, and your organization (and you!) will continue to prosper.

  3. Lynn

    I just sent this to a few people in my organization. I highly value the phone; almost as much as a personally written thank you note. Great blog once again!

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