A New Year’s Resolution… Pay Attention to Your Donor’s Giving Behaviors

     Many years ago, I worked on the major gifts team at a large nonprofit. One of my donors, Cheryl Parker, was lapsing. She was pleased with the organization’s great work. We were just not paying attention to her. You see, Cheryl joined a few years before with a $50 gift in response to the direct mail prospect control package. She received our branded tote bag, We began sending her direct mail.

     Six months later, our TM firm called, and she made that all-important second gift — a generous $100 credit card upgrade. We called again; she gave another $100 credit card gift. Six months later, we called and she upgraded to $250. Another call, and $500, and then a final phone upgrade to $1,000. All credit card gifts through phoning.

     With her $1,000 gift, she left the membership program and upgraded into the development department’s “Partners” major gifts club. In major gifts program, Cheryl received “special treatment”– just a few short mailings on high-quality letterhead each year. (I don’t recall a credit card option in these mailings). And because she was so special, she didn’t receive another one of those terribly pesky telemarketing calls. Why did Cheryl Parker stop giving? Of course, the answer was simple.

    Pressing a few numbers into a phone and I recaptured her support within minutes. If the organization included the 24-hour toll-free number in our major donor mailings, would she have donated? (Toll-free numbers seem to receive big gifts on Saturday mornings.) Perhaps today like many others, she is making online gifts today…

     Pay attention to your donors. More and more donors are receiving your mail, but may be giving online. Some may need a call, even if you don’t like to call them. If you phone a donor, mark that contact on their donor record.

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