Once you have sent letters thanking donors for year-end gifts, Fundraising Success magazine suggests you keep donors engaged in the new year.
“Many of them (people you have never heard of before) won’t be around in 2012,” the magazine says. “Attrition is a fact of life at nonprofits, but what you do now can increase the number of first-time donors who remain loyal in the new year.
“Research shows that you have a 90-day window to get a second gift from a new donor. How you treat donors for those three months is essential. Your goal is to strike a balance; you don’t want to overwhelm them with contacts, but you also don’t want them to feel ignored.
“Once the receipt is mailed, send a welcome mailing. Don’t simply put your latest brochure in a No. 10 envelope and expect that to say ‘Welcome!’ Make sure you include information about your successes, a story (or two) that shows results, and a warm message of welcome. Provide a phone number a new donor can call if she has questions.”
The magazine suggests your original thank-you letter should “tell your donor…that you used her gift for the project she requested.” It also should be valid for tax purposes. (See Helping donors substantiate gifts, receive tax deductions.) Another good idea for those who have contributed earlier in the year is to send a summary receipt early in 2012 of all gifts made during 2011. It “might even net money if you enclose a warm letter of appreciation and a return envelope.”