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When and How to Ask for a Second Gift

Who knew that when you ask for your second gift would matter so much?

New research conducted by Analytical Ones shows that new donors who give a second gift within 3 months have a lifetime value (LTV) that is almost twice as high as those who give at the 12-month mark.

This graph, posted on their blog called “The Exponential Importance of Second Gift Timing”, represents data collected on nonprofit donations for over a decade, and shows the five-year value of a donor based on how quickly they contribute a second gift.

When to Ask for a Donation

The important take-away: It’s crucial to get that second gift soon, because as time passes, the chances of a one-time giver turning into a long-term donor drop significantly.

Asking for a Second Gift

Because most drop-offs happen within the first three months, you’ll have to work quickly to establish a good relationship with first-time donors. Here are some tips:

1. Thank donors quickly

Put a lot of thought into how you thank people for their first donation, and remember to do it quickly.

2. Stay connected

After thanking donors, you’re going to want to follow-up with a report on how their donation was used. Some organizations have a policy in place that stipulates “no contacting donors” for a certain length of time after their first gift; however, this type of policy should be revisited. While it might feel like it’s too soon, data tells us that donors want to hear how their gift was used and if you wait too long, you could lose them.

You can also stay in contact with donors in other ways: Sharing newsletters, annual reports, inviting them to events, or even sending them a holiday greeting card can help build a strong relationship. If it’s a larger donor, you might want to consider an in-person meeting as well.

3. Ask for the same amount or for them to become a monthly donor

If a donor gave $20, you definitely don’t want to ask for $100 three months later, but you could ask for another $20 or for them to become a monthly donor at $5 or $10 per month. Monthly donors are the most valuable donors you can have. See: Why Every Non-profit Needs a Monthly Giving Program

4. Ask for a specific issue that you know the individual is concerned about

Trying to solicit a gift toward a specific program provides donors with context and can be effective in cases where the initial gift went to a specific mission. For instance, if the gift went to supporting an animal shelter, perhaps the next gift could go towards a month’s supply of food for a dog.

If you Don’t Get The Second Gift in 3 Months

While it is true that there is a significant drop off after 3 months, there are still some people that do give 13 to 24 months after the initial gift, so you shouldn’t give up completely on a giver that doesn’t convert to a donor right away. Here are some tips to get them to stay before the year is up:

Send a pre-lapse appeal

Sometimes new donors simply need to be reminded that it has been nearly one year since their initial gift. Sending a “We’ve missed you!” message to these individuals. Explain the great work you’ve been doing since receiving their generous gift and don’t forget to reference the specific amount they contributed.

Consider last chance giving

You can send donors a “last chance” for year-end giving notification via email or direct mail. You just might be surprised at how many respond with a donation.

About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exception software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.

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