Today is a Great Day to Say Thank You
A friend texted me recently for some advice. She knew she should make some phone calls to thank the end-of-year donors to her organization. But she kept putting it off. “I don’t like making cold calls,” she said. “It feels so awkward. Any advice?”
Honestly, I can empathize. It’s hard to pick up the phone and call someone whom you don’t know. It can feel like an intrusion. But is a donor thank you call, even to a donor you’ve never met, really a cold call? I don’t think so.
Remember, I told my friend, of all the nonprofits out there, these donors gave to your organization. They have some affinity for it – perhaps the mission speaks to them. Or maybe a friend of theirs asked them to give. Whatever the reason, the donors made conscious decisions to support it. Wouldn’t you like to know why? Thanking them for their gifts is a perfect opportunity to learn their motivation. And to help you appropriately steward them.
Plus, donor thank you calls can be fun. Who doesn’t like to be thanked? As a donor, I always appreciate receiving a call – it makes me feel like my gift was important and had an impact. And, as a professional fundraiser who spends most of my time asking something of people, I’m always happy to have a respite from asking. Takes the pressure off and leads to some really nice – even fun – conversations that can strengthen your organization’s relationship with donors.
If you’re nervous, I told my friend, script out your call. Once you make a couple of calls, you won’t need it anymore. But it may make the first ones less awkward for you. I also reminded her to read the cues the donor gives. You’ll know if the donor is in a hurry and wants to get off the phone, I told her. In those cases, the calls will be short and sweet, and that’s okay. The donors will still know they’re appreciated.
Other donors – especially now, when so many people are feeling isolated and crave human interaction – may be chatty. Seize these opportunities to learn more about them. Why did they give? What are their interests? Would they like to become more engaged with your organization? These calls are your opportunities to glean important information that will inform your future donor cultivation strategies.
My friend heeded my advice and made her calls. Once she made a couple of them, she was hooked. She had such a nice conversation with one donor, they even ended up sharing personal recipes after the call.
So, my advice to you: don’t delay making your donor thank you calls. In fact, set aside time each week to do exactly that. You’ll have some fun, and your organization will reap rewards of good stewardship.