For good things once a year is not enough. Why do so many of us only eat turkey once a year? Or pumpkin pie? I’ve no idea! It’s surely not rational. These are special foods we value and take great delight in. Yet we get into a bad habit of thinking on auto pilot. If it’s not Thanksgiving, the idea of roasting a turkey or making cranberry sauce doesn’t even enter most or our heads. And egg nog, hot mulled cider, panettone and stollen are mostly Christmas things. And then there are the once-a-year only potato latkes. Why are we missing out on an opportunity for greater joy and satisfaction?
When things are good, they bear repeating.
And this is most certainly the case with expressing gratitude to your valued supporters!
What better time to thank supporters than right now, and all through the coming weeks, after a holiday season filled with gratitude?
“Joe, how was your holiday? I just called because, in thinking over the past few days about all for which I’m grateful, I realized I’m grateful for you and all you do to make our community a more caring place. I just wanted you to know how much your support is appreciated. Thanks so much, and may the new year bring many blessings.”
All the “strategies” in the world can’t substitute for a genuine, personal connection that comes from the heart.
True Confession: Once I was engaged in a long (seriously, it was over an hour) phone conversation with a supporter who was a Holocaust survivor. She was telling me a harrowing story of escape from a concentration camp. Riveting for me; cathartic for her. Yet at a point where she was still in danger in the story, I thought I had to cut the call short to join a staff meeting. Did I really have to? At the very least, I should have called her back. I didn’t. She passed away; I never learned the end of the story. I haven’t quite forgiven myself to this day.
To help your donor feel connected requires you to connect as well.
Connected donors are giving donors.
“Joe, I wanted you to know that the last gift you made helped us reach our goal to establish the ______ program. I got a letter from someone in that program last week, and wondered if you might like me to read it to you?” [or, if you get a voicemail, tell them you’re going to send a copy to them].
A thank you call is exceptionally powerful.
Take an hour TODAY and make thank you calls to folks who gave over the past week. Try to do at least six calls, prioritizing those who’ll most appreciate this personal connection. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day — while gratitude and giving is still fresh on everyone’s minds.
Consider who you should call given limited resources. If you can’t call everyone you think you should, delegate some calls to others you believe your donors would appreciate hearing from (your E.D.? Board president? A program director?)
Here are some ideas of who you might call:
- Major donors (never take these folks for granted, especially if they haven’t given yet this calendar year)
- Mid-level donors (these folks often get overlooked, and many might be persuaded to make larger gifts if they felt more valued and connected. This is a cohort of supporters where a lot of money gets left on the table due to insufficient intentional, personal relationship building)
- First-time donors who give above a certain threshhold (this will vary by organization; consider those who give more than your average gift)
- Volunteers and/or program participants who also donate money (these folks have a lot of skin in the game; they’re often candidates for legacy gifts if you keep them close)
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