Like many people, I like to make charitable donations to organizations that are doing work in fields that matter to me. But as a consultant to nonprofits, I also pay very close attention to what happens next. What happened to me very recently was eye (and wallet) opening.
I made modest online donations to three organizations recently. All three were national and international organizations. I also made a small donation to a national organization that provides mailing labels when you donate.
All of the organizations I donated to online followed up with an email receipt. All of the three have since sent me more email, including newsletters and appeals. They have also all sent other regular mailings. I read their email occasionally. But it is the other things they have done that have really stood out:
One of the organizations called me, using a fundraising firm, seeking a commitment for a monthly donation. The call was nearly five minutes long.
One organization called me, simply to say thank you. They asked for nothing and they told me nothing about what they are doing. The call was less than a minute long.
One organization sent me a survey by email about what I am most interested in knowing about their work. The survey took approximately five minutes.
What happened with the mailing label organization was also very interesting. Ever since that donation was made, I have received several more pieces of mail from them asking for another donation. Not only that, but another organization which obviously purchased the mailing list of the first organization, has sent no fewer than ten pieces of mail as well. The organization that did not receive a donation sends mail with “3rd request” and “Final Reminder” printed on the outside of the envelope.
Which organization do you think is most likely to receive another donation from me?
If you guessed the organization that called me simply to say thank you, then you would be correct. The phone call surprised me. It made me want to ask them what they are doing and to thank them for what they are doing. I also told them why I chose to donate to them. Most of all, the phone call ensured that I would send another donation as soon as I am able to do so. They made me feel as if I had done something so important that they had to tell me, even though I considered that donation to be very modest compared to what other donors might have given. It was simple and to the point and the caller reacted very little to what I said to her except to say thank you again.
The organizations that applied pressure to get more donations were a very big turn-off for me. They felt too much like political fundraising and even shaming in a way. Using a fundraising firm to call me also guaranteed that I would not donate to that organization again. However, other organizations that have a mission that is personal to me do the same thing and it does not bother me as much. I did appreciate the one that sent me a survey and might consider donating again to that organization, depending on what happens next.
In the world of fundraising, it is true that frequency and diversity of contact matters in terms of results. It is also proven that donors will donate again very soon after making their last donation. Some fundraisers might say that the tactics of all of these organizations are extremely effective. I may be different than typical donors and you need to explore various methods to see what works for you. My recommendation is that you pick up the phone and give your donors a quick call to say thank you. The mark you leave on them may have a lasting impact.