Why Small Donations Are Priceless

Group of Green Sprouts with Rain
04.17.2013By

During an NTC session on social media fundraising someone mentioned working with a nonprofit who thinks collecting small donations online is a waste of time.

Their claim is that because it’s such a small slice of the overall pie, they would be better off spending what little resources they have on making the other slices bigger.

While on the surface this line of thinking makes sense, it fails to consider the long-term value of small donor acquisition. It throws out seeds in favor of saplings.

How much is $1 worth?

Even an initial $1 donation is a critical step within the overall journey as a supporter. They’ve self-identified as the lifeblood of your organization: People that are willing to part with their money.

In other words, building an army of people that actually donate is more important than the dollar amount they contribute. A handful of seeds eventually will become a forest.

Here are three simple ideas to make the most of your small donors:

  1. Say thank you. Saying “Thank You” to a new donor increases the likelihood that they will donate again, and that they’ll give more! Make sure you give these people a remarkable experience by doing things like sending handwritten notes.
  2. Use social media to identify big opportunities. Small Act allows you to see what these first-time donors are talking about on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. With this information, you can identify bigger opportunities. For example, CARE uses Small Act to find ‘key influencers’ for full relationship management that focuses on long term value, regardless of the short term payoff. Sign up for a free account SocialVision to see what SmallAct has in store.
  3. Use email marketing to encourage future actions. People who donate for the first time, even if it’s just $1, should be added to a specific email list. This way you can send messages that will be more meaningful and therefore more effective. After you set up your list, create a drip campaign designed to deepen your relationship with them by encouraging small commitments, like signing a petition or sharing content on Facebook.

How to begin planting seeds

Block out time to discuss how you will make the most of first-time donors. Start with the action they might want to take after making a small donation, versus the action you want them to take. Then develop strategies to encourage these actions.

How does your org grow seedlings?