February 14 – Time for donor love

publication date: Feb 5, 2015
author/source: Gwen Chapman

Gwen ChapmanI recently attended a friend’s Birthday Breakfast and had the honour of sitting alongside a vivacious Mimosa-drinking 90 year-old. She was curious about my “donor service” work with charities – “Oh Dear,” she lamented, “they definitely need that!

She then told me how unhappy she is with her favourite cancer charity that keeps lambasting her with unwanted mail. “A few months ago I spoke with a very nice young lady in their Vancouver office. She was very sympathetic and said she’d see what she could do. But I’m still getting all this STUFF!” She winced and took another sip of her Mimosa.

If you’ve been so busy fundraising you haven’t had time to address donor relations (oh, the irony), here’s an action plan to get you back on track before Valentine’s Day.

Valentine Chocolate “Thank You” Extravaganza

  1. Identify three neglected Donor segments, such as: a) Donors who’ve given 10 or more gifts but are considered “lapsed” and no longer receive mail, b) Donors who consistently give only one gift each year, and c) Donors who made their first and only gift in 2013.
  2. Randomly select 50 records from each of these lists. Of course, you could overlay additional selection criteria. But I fear that might delay the database selection, and what you want to achieve right now is momentum. So keep it simple.
  3. Print each list to paper complete with contact info.
  4. Entice, cajole and recruit a selection of volunteers to participate in a Valentine Chocolate “Thank You” Extravaganza. Be sure to consider volunteers from the following prospective groups; Program staff and volunteers, Finance and Admin staff, Board of Directors, Monthly Donors, and of course Fundraising and Donor Relations staff.
  5. Time to call and thank! Choose a time to gather your volunteers together and distribute the list of 150 donor records among them. The task? Call, thank, listen, thank – and call the next donor on the list. Make it fun! Be creative. Decorate the calling zone(s). Supply delicious Valentine treats. Periodically stop to share donor feedback. Celebrate.

Use your Valentine “Thank You” Extravaganza as inspiration to revamp your donor appreciation efforts. Start with the following three categories:

Donor Communication Preferences

Remember the experience of the 90-year-old breakfast guest I mentioned earlier? What happens in your office when a donor calls to complain about receiving too much mail? Do you record donor communication preference options on your database? Do those communication preferences translate into the fundraising strategy?

Asking the questions above will help you identify what needs to change.

“Wow!” Thank You Calls   

Beware the trap of meetings and administration. Prioritize time to connect personally with donors every day by making 3-5 “Wow!” thank you calls. 

“Wow! Thank you so much for your donation, Mrs. Jones. We’re thrilled that you were able to give us so much more this time.” “Wow! I’ve just opened the mail, and I couldn’t believe it – a $100 gift from you and it looks like this is the first time you’ve given to us. Thank you so much!”

Thank You Letters

Do your thank you letters start with “On behalf of …”? Are your thank you letters part of a form with an official tax receipt attached? Do your thank you letter start with “Dear Friend”? Do they take longer than 48 hours to get in the mail? Do you send the same thank you letter in response to all gifts? Have you been using the same thank you letter copy for six months or more?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time for change. 

You are sure to get positive feedback from donors during your Valentine Chocolate “Thank You” Extravaganza. So don’t stop there. Make a concerted effort to enhance the overall donor experience. Start by giving your attention to the three categories noted above.  You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make to donor giving levels and retention rates.

Gwen Chapman has long been a passionate advocate for donor-centric fundraising and has more than 30 years of leadership and fundraising experience. As Principal of DonorFocus 360, Gwen uncovers ... then helps fix ... internal factors and external touchpoints that impact an organization’s relationship with donors and their mutual objective to make a better world. Email: Gwen@DonorFocus360.com Twitter: @DonorFocus360 and @TouchPointChamp

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