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    Ollie Rothmann By Ollie Rothmann • September 6, 2021

    Finding Value In The Bottom Of The Donor Pyramid

    Coming off of a record number of first-time donors in 2020, it’s easy to determine that retention efforts are a mainstay in FY22 strategies at all types of nonprofits. However, each organization defines "retention strategy" differently. 

    Finding Value In The Bottom Of The Donor Pyramid

    For many, this means that there is a prescribed sequence of touchpoints that occurs once a gift is made. Most of the time, the nature of these touches depends on the amount of the gift. Historically, the larger the gift, the more personalized attention the donor receives. However, it is common knowledge that first-time donors - regardless of capacity - typically are not giving such substantial gifts. 

    We need to view this initial donation as a test. It is a test from the donor to see how we respond to their gift. Penelope Burke, former President of the consulting firm, Cygnus Applied Research, puts it best in saying that,

    “Donors are quite deliberate when they decide to support a not-for-profit for the first time. If a donor gets back what they feel is a good response, then they’re ready to give again and to give more generously the next time.”

    It is our job as fundraisers to personally engage with those first-time donors consistently. Affinity doesn’t sprout up out of anywhere. It is not like people wake up suddenly and say, “I am going to give a bunch of money to X organization”. No, these relationships must be nurtured and generic blanket emails and letters won’t cut it. 


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    Burke explains that “if you treat your donors at the bottom poorly and shake your finger at them and expect them to somehow get to a higher gift value and then you’re going to be nice to them, then you’ve got it backward.”

    It doesn’t have to be this way. Nonprofits using Gravyty are providing all of their donors with personal, genuine donor experiences. Once a gift is made, no matter the gift value, Gravyty alerts fundraisers and prompts them to engage the donor by providing a background on the gift, a bio of the donor, and even a self-written First Draft email that the fundraiser can then send to the donor directly with the click of a button.  

    So, perhaps it’s time that donor retention receives the consideration this year that is always deserved because the going rate of attrition between the first gift and the second appeal is 65%. The 35% of the first-time donors who do actually give again are not enough to ensure sustainability within your donor pipeline. Plus, without personal relationship-building cultivation, affinity lapses and upward mobility through the donor pyramid remains stagnant. 

    See for yourself how Gravyty is empowering fundraisers to personally engage with the entire donor pyramid without sacrificing the white-glove treatment top donors have come to expect. Find time for a Gravyty demo today and learn what is possible in fundraising:

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