If you are new to major gifts fundraising, I have a secret for you!
After you’ve sent your fundraising appeal by mail or e-mail, wait a week. Run your loyal donors report from your database, and CALL them. That’s right, pick up the phone and call them. Find an hour in your day once or twice a week and block out “donor call time.” Put a sticky note on your door and don’t allow any disruptions. Stop looking at your email. Push everything aside on your desk except that list of donors and their phone numbers. Create an excel spreadsheet with the following columns – name of donor, date of last gift, amount of last gift, date called, and result. Write a script that will work whether or not you get the donor on the phone or if you have to leave a voicemail (you will most likely get voicemail).
“Hello Susie, It’s Lisa from XYZ nonprofit. I’m calling just to say thank you in advance for the gift you are about to make. I hope you received our appeal in the mail (or via e-mail) last week. You have always responded so generously to our needs for XYZ (impact, service) and you continue to make a difference. I noticed you have consistently given at the $XX dollar level. You are so generous and kind. Did you know that if you gave (add some $$ to the prior gift amount that makes sense) we will be able to (fill in greater impact here in a tangible way). Thank you again for being a key supporter of our organization year after year. I look forward to speaking with you soon. I can be reached at (phone number) if you have any questions.”
Next, go back to your spreadsheet and fill in the “result” column with either A) left voicemail and the date, B) donor pledged to send $XX by check, or C) donor paid by credit card over the phone (the ultimate desired outcome!)
You might be surprised; I’ve had donors say, “Thanks so much for calling and reminding me! I have your letter on my desk, and I’ve been meaning to respond,” or, “I’d like to take care of this now before I forget, may I give you my credit card information over the phone now?” I’ve done this, and it works. You need to be fearless and passionate about your cause. This will show in your voice, and your loyal donors will be happy to hear from you. The end result will be well worth the time and effort, I promise you!