10 ways you may be chasing away new donors

Getting new donors is hard. And expensive — typically we lose money on donor acquisition campaigns.

It’s all about getting subsequent gifts and upgrading as many as possible to higher levels, bequests, and/or monthly giving.

Here’s a very helpful list from John Haydon’s blog on the Top 10 Mistakes That Cause First-Time Donors to Leave:

  1. Not saying thank you
  2. Bragging about your organization instead of the donor
  3. Not personalizing your email message with at least their first name
  4. Sending the same exact fundraising emails to all donors
  5. Subjecting the donor to a horrible online experience
  6. Not asking donors why they gave
  7. Not sharing impact stories
  8. Not asking for a second gift
  9. Not telling the donor what’s next
  10. Not fixing what’s broken with your donor retention strategy

In my experience, the most common and destructive things on this list are #1 and #2.

I’m amazed how many organizations have no thank-you strategy at all. Why would any donor give a second time when they aren’t even acknowledged the first time?

As for #2, that’s a bit more difficult. It’s easy to forget that donors don’t give to fund our organization — they give to make good things happen. When you lose sight of that fact, bragging probably seems to be the right thing to do!.

It’s not.

New donors are important. They’re also the least likely of all your donors to stay with you. This list will help you move them into a more secure relationship.

I’ve made most of these mistakes during my career. You don’t have to. Click here to schedule a free 25 minute session with me, and we can talk about avoid mistakes or any other fundraising topic of your choice.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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