Second Asks

Posted on 02/18/2017 - by Dan Allenby

One of the oldest taglines in annual giving goes like this: Make a gift now and we won’t ask again for another year. But there are a growing number of programs today that can’t make that claim. Why? Because they’re implementing “second asks” – going back to donors who have already made a gift and asking them for additional support. Some programs are reluctant to take this approach for fear of offending donors or hurting future retention rates. Rutgers University isn’t one of them.

Rutgers typically runs two second ask campaigns per year – one in January and one in May. In January, they reach out to donors whose previous gift was made between June and November. Then, in May, they target donors whose previous gift was made between December and March. Sometimes the second asks are for a general fund (e.g., scholarships) but the best response rates often come when donors are asked to support a specific area that’s important or personal to them. For Rutgers, it’s not unusual to see as many as 3,500 second gifts in a year, which can add up to more than $350,000.

Second asks can be a great way to upgrade donors and strengthen the pipeline. For example, if someone has been consistently contributing $750, a second ask for $250 can serve as a way to increase their total giving to $1,000 and welcome them as a member of a leadership gift society. For programs that encourage unrestricted support the first time around, a second ask can be a way for them to support a special interest, such as a department or an athletic team.

The big question for many annual giving professionals is what happens after someone makes a second gift? Does their likelihood of giving in the following year decrease? Surprisingly, no. In fact, the more gifts a donor contributes in a single year, the more likely they are to renew their support the following year. At Rutgers, a donor is 13% more likely to renew if they make a second gift, and 23% more likely to renew if they make 3 or more gifts in a year.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And even when you do succeed, it may be worth trying again.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Leadership Gifts for Annual Funds.