Are you treating your Monthly Donors like cherished family members?

Monthly donors (aka regular givers) are incredibly valuable to your charity, so it’s critical to roll out the welcome mat and make them feel like cherished members of your family.  That starts with exceptional stewardship right from the beginning of the relationship.

Stewardship starts by having a rock-solid gift-fulfillment process.  By managing this pivotal detail, you show from day one that you care about the donor’s gift and are trustworthy and well-organised.

Next you should do everything in your power to make sure the donor is thanked as soon as possible, and in the most personal way.  A thank you telephone call within 48 hours of the gift is the gold standard.  It’s also a fantastic way to verify donor details.  (But this call shouldn’t replace a written thank you…you literally cannot say thank you too much or too often).

Then, within a week, send an emotionally engaging and personal New Donor Welcome Package (NDWP) by post (even for online donors).  While you should have an NDWP for all of your new donors, make sure the package for your monthly donors is a little more special.  You can start simply by investing time in a live signature and a handwritten note.

Finally, send an email follow-up a week or so after the first gift has been processed so you can check-in with your new monthly donor.  Ask them if they’ve received the NDWP and have any questions.  You’ll reinforce that you genuinely care and it’s also a nice way to lead them into your monthly donor communications schedule for the balance of the year.

The ultimate goal for your welcome process is to make your new donor feel like they’ve made a good investment with their commitment to a monthly gift for your organisation. 

Do you need some help creating chemistry with monthly donors?  Email or call David (toll-free in North America on 1-800-991-3318 x101 or on our New Zealand freephone 0800 995 054) today for free, no obligation advice. 


Donor stewardship tips from a 12-year old boy

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)!

Would you like to build long-term and rewarding relationships with more of your donors?  Do you need some help with your stewardship plan? Call Andrea toll-free 1-800-991-3318 x103 today for a free, no obligations chat. 

One is the loneliest number.

When it comes to direct mail fundraising, it’s also the most unrewarding.

One of the questions I get asked most frequently when speaking at conferences or Fundraising Pharmacy training sessions is why I always recommend multiple mailings in a year.  It’s not just people I meet who are new to direct mail or fundraising who ask.  It’s a question that many seasoned fundraisers ask, too.

Effectively their queries boil down to this:

“Why not just send one highly effective and efficient appeal each year and be done with it?”

Seems like a great idea at first blush.  We’d save staff time, mailing costs (and those pesky project consulting fees).

But years of testing and data analysis tell us that the most effective approach is more involved.  Why?  Well, when it comes right down to it, it’s because we are working with humans.

It’s difficult to get people’s attention, even loyal donors.

This is both good news and bad news.

First, the bad news…donors aren’t always paying attention to what we send them in the mail.  And not every appeal theme or issue appeals to all donors.  This is the “Right Ask at the right time” mantra that direct marketers live by.  We have to send multiple appeals with multiple offers in order to capture as many people’s interest as possible.

And as Liz Rejman at Museum London also emphasized in a recent discussion on this very topic, “sometimes when we ask, it may not be a good time for a donor to make a gift or they may intend to donate and forget.”

Liz is bang on.  Like a lot of things in life, timing is key!  And since we can’t possibly time a single appeal to work for every single donor, sending multiple appeals is the best way to maximise your revenue and (even more important) maximise the number of donors that will stay current.

Now here’s the good news…

It’s actually a good thing that the one-perfect-mail-piece doesn’t exist.  Because what we’ve learned over the years is that many donors will make more than one gift in a year.  It stands to reason.  They are passionate about the work you do…you share multiple ways their gifts can make a difference… some donors will decide to help more than once.

In fact, most organisations with mature direct marketing programs see an average of 1.3 gifts/donor/year.

This is very good, not just for the extra revenue from those 0.3 gifts, but also because the donors that send more than one gift in a year are a very valuable segment.  They tend to be more loyal, more receptive to upgrading their giving, more likely to become monthly donors and much more likely to name your charity in their will.

Like so many things with direct mail and direct marketing fundraising, what at first appears to be inefficiency is actually an investment in the overall donor relationship and the attendant increase in fundraising revenue over the lifetime of your donors.

You can rest assured that sending multiple direct mail solicitations every year will help you raise the most funds in both the short and long term.  Just make sure you add at least one or two stewardship pieces to keep donors informed and in love.  And also put processes in place to ensure donor preferences can be honoured (IE: for donors who wish to receive only one solicitation mailing per year).

What’s your optimum direct mail appeal number?  Are you boosting the effectiveness of each mail appeal with email, social media, the telephone and personal visits?  Call David toll-free 1-800-991-3318 x101 today for a free assessment. 

From idiot to trusted friend in 13 sentences.

Recently our team was working with a client that had some issues with their database and accuracy of their records.

Sound familiar?

There were a group of contacts that only had business information and addresses, but no contact name information.  Many of these donors had given 5 and even 6 figure gifts.

Together, we decided that waiting until the data was perfect or avoiding a solicitation of these donors was not an acceptable solution.  We put our heads together and came up with an idea:

Why not just be up front about the deficiencies in the records and ask donors to help us fix it?

This is the kind of stuff that people love to help with.

So, together we wrote a very simple, direct and honest letter that explained that we were rather embarrassed to be missing key information about such a loyal and generous donor.  Next, we asked the donor to share 3 pieces of information (name, phone number and email) at the bottom of the page and pop it in the postage paid return envelope along with their kind gift.

The client printed the letter themselves, along with the simple update form, all on a single sheet of letterhead (at a cost of less than a penny per note) and added it into the unsealed packages we had returned after processing at the mailhouse.

Easy, inexpensive and personal.

I almost wish we had more records with missing information, so we could make more use of this highly engaging approach.

I know we worry about looking unprofessional or *gurk* incompetent in front of donors.  But the reality is these kinds of errors exist and most people understand, especially if you are upfront and honest about it.

Try this approach next time you run into a mistake.  I guarantee this is one donor engagement idea that will make Mom proud!


A warm welcome to our newest client.

It’s a real honour to add the MS Society of Canada, Saskatchewan Division to the Fundraising Pharmacy client family.

I started my professional fundraising career with the MS Society. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use something I learned about fundraising from the wonderful people there.

It’s always been fascinating to me that Saskatchewan is a high-risk area for multiple sclerosis.  Luckily, the thousands of people in Saskatchewan who have this often devastating disease (as well as their family and loved ones), can turn to the MS Society when they need help.

Through donor support, the MS Society of Canada’s work in the province delivers needed support and services for the 3,500 individuals with MS helping ensure that they and their families don’t have to face this unpredictable, often disabling central nervous system disease alone.  And the research that donors fund provides hope as well as real progress in treatment of the disease and toward the goal to End MS.

Welcome, and our entire FRx team is thrilled to join in the effort to endMS!