I remember the first time I had to ask my son to pick up the phone and call his grandparents to say thank you for a gift he had received. You would have thought I was asking him to enter into the scariest of haunted houses all on his own – he was terrified!
I couldn’t figure it out.
It’s not like he was calling strangers. And he was grateful. But he couldn’t do it. He was afraid of the phone.
When we talked about it, I realized that his fear of picking up the phone had to do with feeling awkward and just not knowing what to say…
Your donors are not strangers. You should not feel awkward about picking up the phone and letting them know how much your organization appreciates their commitment to your cause. They care and they need to know that you care too.
So pick up that phone and say thanks! Let your donors know just how important they really are. Here are 3 ideas to help alleviate that awkward feeling:
1. Have a plan. A simple plan that allows you to set aside a small chunk of time each week to pick up the phone and say thank you to your donors will help you to develop a routine, and create good habits when it comes to engaging and retaining your donors. You may be fortunate and have a list that seems impossible to get through, so prioritize.
Try this order:
- All first time donors must get a call — regardless of gift size.
- After that, call anyone who increases their gift over what they gave last time.
- Next, call those who are giving their second (or third or fourth) gift that year.
- Then, decide on a cut-off point based on a dollar amount for the rest.
- Don’t forget your recurring donors who give quarterly or monthly. They could use a “thank you” call at least once/year, after all they are probably some of your most loyal supporters!
2. Get your Board members to pick up the phones to say thanks. It’s a great way to engage the Board in fundraising, especially if they are hesitant about asking for money. Having a Board member reach out to your donors helps organizations connect with their donors without asking for a cent. You may even learn a bit more about why your donors support your organization. And as an added bonus, studies show that after a thank you call, the donor gift increases in size!
Penelope Burk, author of Donor Centered Fundraising, is constantly conducting research to find out what donors want and what you need to do to keep your donors loyal. In one study, board members called to thank donors within 24 hours of making a gift. The results were amazing: Donors who were called gave 39% more the next time they were solicited.
3. Not sure what to say? Be sincere. Tell them who you are and that you are not calling to ask them for money, rather you just want to thank them for the gift they made. Maybe you can tell them what the money was used for – let them know how they directly made an impact. If they ask you questions, answer them – if you don’t know the answer, tell them you will find out and get back to them. It’s that simple.
And if they have more time to spend with you, ask them why they chose to give to your organization. Let them know just how integral they are to your organization.
Fundraising is about building relationships. It takes time and care. But a phone call is the simplest, most direct way to reach your donors, and to ensure that they know they are valued.
My son now loves to pick up the phone and chat. So do his sisters. Thank goodness my cell phone is my own (most days)!