The Long Ask

It always baffles me how little time organizations will spend stewarding and cultivating their donors. The less time an organization spends acknowledging and cultivating its donors the fewer donors they will retain. In this kind of an organization their top donors are current board members because that is the only group with which they have spent significant time. Many of these organizations never ask for a gift they just cross their fingers and hope that the money will come in.

Take time throughout the entire year to connect with your donors. Know what season your donors would like to give and set up a schedule of reaching out. You do not need to talk with them every single month but you should at least touch base with them quarterly.

Depending on the level of gift your “touch” may be very different. If it is someone that likes to give $20 or $100, don’t spend all of your money cultivating them throughout the year. Find ways to send them electronic messages or newsletters so they know what’s going on. For your donors who are major donors take time to connect with them individually. These connection points should NOT be about asking for money. One of them should be immediately after they give and it should be a thank you.

If your donors see that you care enough to build a year-long relationship with them, then when it comes time for them to give it is a very different experience for you and for them. When you talk to someone once a year when they give it feels very transactional and impersonal. When a relationship has been built throughout the entire year a donor can give knowing it will go to continue the good work for which it was originally intended.

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2 Responses to The Long Ask

  1. andreakihlstedt says:

    What a wonderful piece this is. It captures perfectly the very simple things we should be doing to guarantee fundraising success. Just one thing to add, when you do reach out to your donors regularly, you’ll get to know them. And the better you know them–and they you–the more fun and rewarding for you both the experience will be. Rewarding in both personal and financial terms. Thx for writing this, Jason.

  2. BrianSaber says:

    Nice piece – true how many organizations blow this completely. And it’s the relatively easy part!

    Brian Saber

    Asking Matters

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