Can 15 minutes a week lead to bigger donations, greater board involvement, and donor prospect research? The answer is yes, and it can be as simple as making a phone call.
I have sat through many fundraising trainings over the years and a consistent theme discussed is organizations inability to thank donors properly. This idea was reinforced for me while sitting in a room filled with nonprofit leaders; the keynote speaker asked how many people had received a hand-written note after donating to an organization, less than a quarter of the room raised their hand. He then asked how many people had received a thank you call; one person raised his hand. The speaker asked the donor about his reaction to that call; his answer was that he was surprised, and then he followed by adding that it made him feel special. He said he ended up giving another gift, and the next one was larger than the first.
Even if you are sitting at your desk with no development plan, or maybe no development staff and a stack of things to do, it is still important to make time for thank you calls. Here is the great part, it shouldn’t come from a staff member, a thank you call is more meaningful coming from a volunteer or a board member.
When I put this idea to the test with my development committee and board members, there was some hesitation (understandably, who likes to talk on the phone anymore.) I had one key volunteer who was enthusiastic, she talked about the value of what they were about to do and gave the other members tips on what to say. It was a very simple message: “I’m calling to thank you for your donation, I’m not calling to ask for anything else, we just want you to know how much it means to us.” If the person is open to more discussion than this is a great time to ask them to tell you more about why they give and to give them an opportunity to give feedback directly to the organization. If it seems like they want to get off the phone, then you politely end the call, that is it.
After performing this little experiment here is what I learned. My volunteers loved doing thank you calls!
People were kind, and surprised and said wonderful things to them and it felt good.
They didn’t have to ask for money, and yet they had contributed something very valuable to the organization.
They learned information from donors that helped establish new prospects who later increased their gifts and their involvement.
Too commonly thank you calls get lost in a sea of other items swirling at the bottom of your to-do list. That is why you need to make it a priority: