Making Connections


Making Connections

My client’s fundraising “event” became an online “funding activity” this year. No, it was not a sophisticated Zoom event with program remarks, but instead we used a mail appeal that was supported by follow up calls, an online video (pieced together by a talented volunteer) and a couple of supporting eblasts. Honestly, it was nothing fancy.

But one thing I did differently, was contact our major donors using my cell phone. First, I gathered my thoughts and wrote down what I wanted to say.  Then I recorded individualized “selfie” videos to my phone and sent them off one by one. Yes, this required lots of “do-overs” and ridiculous outtakes, but despite the added effort, I felt more authentic sending messages this way. It was the closest thing to human contact I could muster.

My message was simple.

To the people who hadn’t given yet, I greeted them by name, and told them (in one sentence how their past support helped this agency) and then asked for their continued support, if they were able to do so.

For those who had already donated, I also used their name in the greeting, and asked them to help spread the word about the online auction to their friends, family members, and work colleagues.

It turns out the donors found it more meaningful than a typical voice mail. Many of them texted back to say so – and honestly, I felt more connected to them too.

One pleasant surprise is that many donors made second gifts. Another is that we got donations from new people (thank you donors who helped to spread the word!)  All in all, we raised more money than ever before for this nonprofit.

Another client’s Executive Director did something similar. He used his computer (Windows’ native camera application) and uploaded the video to his personal YouTube account. Then, he sent links of the video through a clickable hyperlink.

However, we approach contacting our donors, it is evident that we need to reinvent ourselves, and find new meaningful ways.  As we try them out, we promise to pass these ideas on to you. After all, we are all in this together.

by: Michelle Jimenez, Senior Consultant HPS Chicago

One Size Fits All?


One Size Fits All?

Remember in 8th grade and your parents made you write all those thank you notes after your Graduation party?  That fell in the category of what’s a “best practice” following somebody doing something nice for you.  But what about that special uncle or aunt that meant a great deal to you.  Did he get the same note that you wrote to all the friends, neighbors and family members that attended the party?

Why do we do the same for donors to our annual fund?  As a Development Officer, you probably write a draft of a letter, give it to your Data Base manager, they enter it and let the thank you letters fly.

Have you ever considered having a different acknowledgment letter based on dollar amount?  Have you ever thought that different tiered letters should be sent to different donors?

There is so much creativity that can be put into the acknowledgment process that challenges the concept that “one size fits all.”  It doesn’t and for those donors that mean more to you (and the organization) their gift should be acknowledged differently.

Today’s donor wants to know about their IMPACT on the organization.  Be clear about that impact.  Be creative about communicating that IMPACT and most importantly, be PERSONAL about that IMPACT.

When done creatively, the donor will make a greater IMPACT over time.

by: Michael Bruni, Managing Director, HPS Chicago