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Getting Personal in the Year-End Giving Season

In the frenzy of the giving season, it’s tempting to resort to blanket e-mails, mass newsletters, and other large-scale efforts to bring in gifts.

This might be perfectly appropriate for an organization with a large and proven on-line or direct mail program. But it’s not the most efficient solution for most organizations at year-end.

Instead, consider how you can get personal with as many donors as you can this year-end. Use the communication channels you’ve got to tailor individual messages to your donors.

Start with your major donors.

Get into your database and determine which of your major donors hasn’t yet given in 2018. Sort that list by the biggest donors. You’ll start from the top.

Figure out your message. I tend to think along the lines of, “I’m calling to see if there is anything I can do to help you with your year-end giving decisions.” But, you really just want to tailor the message to the donor. What are they interested in? What might they want to know?

Determine the best way to contact each donor (based on how they have contacted you before) and keep trying to reach them throughout November and December, or until you get to the bottom of your major donor list. Use e-mail and social media to connect with those that you can’t reach by phone. For this group, you might also offer a personal meeting.

Capture anything you learn about these donors during your calling so that you can continue to personalize your communication with them over time.

Be sure to include middle donors.

Those donors that are on the edge of being a major donor to your organization often really want to hear from you. Sort again by size of gift and whether they gave to the organization last year or not.

Start at the top and use phone, e-mail, or social media to connect with these folks. Thank them for their past support. See if they have any questions, or want any more information. Middle donors often want to know more.

Keep track of these who respond and what form of communication they responded to.

Consider your lapsed pool.

If you have the time, consider personally contacting donors who are lapsed, that is donors who haven’t given in 2017 or 2018. You’d want to sort that group by recency and then by gift amount, and see what you’ve got.

Depending on their level of giving previously and what you know, your message could vary. But the point is that you most likely will be able to re-inspire major and middle donors be reaching out to them personally.

Get some help.

I realize that this is a lot of work. Consider dividing the lists and engaging other staff, board members, or volunteers to make some calls. You could also put the lists in front of volunteers to see if they know any of the donors. They might be able to connect on an even more personal level.

The bottom line is that this kind of outreach will do more for most organizations’ bottom line in terms of dollars in the door than agonizing over e-mail or newsletter copy.

Broad communications are important, but there’s nothing like up close and personal!

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