One and done donors

Some donors just aren’t that into you. They give, and then never give again.

In fact, a meaningful majority of donors never give a second time to any organization that donate to. Industry-wide, 81% of first-time donors don’t give again. I assume that because you read this blog, you are doing better than that with your first-time donors, but still … most of them won’t repeat.

Here are some donor types who are least likely to give more than once:

  • Event donors. Donors who give at a gala, auction, or other event are more motivated by the event, and their connections to the event, than by your cause. They’re even less likely to give again if their donation is in the form of sponsoring someone at an event.
  • Memorial/tribute donors. Giving to honor another person — living or passed on — is a strong motivation. But it doesn’t translate into a donor relationship very often.
  • Disaster donors. When a major disaster hits, donors come out of the woodwork with donations to help. But they are much less likely to stay with you than other types of donors.
  • Young donors. The younger they are, the lower their rate of subsequent giving. Many of them are also in one of the previous groups of low-continuation donors.

Fundraising is all about building relationships. These are donors who are less interested in that. So what should you do? Have a plan!

  • Be realistic. No matter how hard you try, their likelihood of giving again is low. Don’t beat yourself up because so many of them aren’t giving again. And throw good money after bad.
  • Think of them as prospects, not donors. In that light, they’re quite good! Higher response rates and higher average gifts than most non-donors. Use the economics of acquisition, not donor cultivation.
  • Look for ways to get second donations from them that have something to do with what caused them to give. Whatever caused them to give in the first place, find ways for them to do that again.


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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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