The Law of Inertia states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by an external force. The same tends to be true about church donors. Church members who do not contribute are challenging to inspire. When someone donates for the first time, it is cause for celebration! However, knowing how and when to respond to a first-time gift will ensure a repeat donation. Repeat donors will provide significant resources that enable your church to fulfill its vision. Here’s what to do.
Why don’t first-time donors repeat their gift?
Some of your church members will finally take the plunge and make a first-time gift to the church. Sometimes, it is the only gift they ever make and you might never know why. After significant study, nonprofit researchers learned the No. 1 reason first-time donors never make a second contribution. Can you guess what it is?
It’s not because they were ignored. Sending a personal thank you is recommended, however, it is not the most important factor in receiving a repeat gift.
It is not because they felt their gift was wasted or unnecessary. At the beginning stages of giving, people aren’t typically concerned about the stewardship of their gifts.
It’s not even because they lost interest in the organization. Their interest in the community doesn’t disappear overnight. Their interest in your ministry may continue, but they choose not to give again.
So, why do some first-time donors never repeat their gift?
The No. 1 reason first-time donors don’t make a second gift — they were asked for a second gift BEFORE being thanked for the first one.
Receiving a sudden second solicitation can feel impersonal.
Likely we have all had this experience of being asked for another gift too soon after making a first-time donation. Charities seize the opportunity to ask for a gift because they think, based on your gift, you are sympathetic to their cause. As soon as your check lands on the executive director’s desk, another solicitation arrives in your mailbox. It feels impersonal and greedy.
Has this happened in your church? It shouldn’t.
We are the Church! We are all about love, and grace, and gratitude (among other things). Expressing gratitude lets donors know you care about them, not just their finances.
How you say thank you is as important as how you ask for support.
Your plan for acknowledging first-time donations should consider the following:
1) First-time givers should receive a thank you note within a week of making the donation.
2) Your thank you note should include information about how donations are making an impact through your church. Connect their donation with the church’s ability to achieve its God-given vision.
3) Do not make a second ask in the letter — the letter is 100% gratitude.
Here is a sample thank you letter to first-time donors to get you started.