Help! This donor just won’t talk to me!

Ok.  You just had a great big unsolicited gift come in.  You’re not sure why, but super grateful and excited.  Could be a response to a splash in the media, friend of a friend, year end tax break, the list goes on.  You celebrate for a few minutes but then the work begins because as you know, our primary aim, mission, and priority is to secure that ever so important, ever so encouraging, ever so absolutely gotta get this done – second gift.

If you’re like me, the folks that have sent in unsolicited gifts that you typically prioritize pursuing are those that gave the most generously.  100% no brainer.  The size of a gift is typically a great indication that whoever gave it is totally into you, or actually and better yet, totally into your agency, your cause, and the great work you are doing.  Or, are they?

I mean, what’s going on when you send that timely and compelling thank you to folks that have given a major unsolicited gift thanking them, expressing you desire to get to know them, and genuinely communicating how much you appreciate their partnership and for a response you get nada?  Zilch.  Zero.  What does it mean when you don’t hear from them for a few weeks, and try again, and then, still, nothing?  A few months go by and you start to worry that you seem like a stalker.  You’ve done everything you’re supposed to do and still, nothing?   What now?

Well, at the end of the day, we just have to accept it.  We can’t make donors talk to us.  And, in the grand scheme, that’s ok.  Here are a few things to remember and perhaps be encouraged by:

  1. For donors we don’t know, that ‘big’ gift may not be that big for them.  If they are unknown and their capacity is unclear, it could be a drop in the bucket.  We might be one of many orgs they are giving to and the need to get to know us better simply might not be on their radar.
  2. While pursuing donors is our top priority, we simply are not always theirs.  Rules of the game.
  3. There are many, many other ways to evaluate the success of our fundraising efforts than whether or not we’re able to engage everyone who gives.
  4. Donors are the shot callers, not us.  Let’s go with what works, and focus on the doors that are opening not the ones that remain closed after repeated (hopefully not incessant knocks).

Thoughts on how to manage donors who never call us back?  Tweet a comment to @infosmallchange with #ascblog.


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