Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don’t Cross the Line from Persistent to Pesky!

What is the difference between persistent and pesky fund raising?  One can successfully encourage donors to give and keep on giving while the other can have just the opposite effect.   

I believe in frequent contact and repeated requests for donations from current donors.  Your best potential for new funds comes from current donors because these people have already demonstrated interest in and support of your mission, and they are more likely to be responsive to requests for additional funds.  This is especially true when these requests are for special projects outside your normal operating expenses.  So, if you are holding a special event or conducting a capital campaign or looking for those extra dollars to meet a budget shortfall, be sure to include you regular donors on your prospect lists. 

Further, when asking for annual renewals, be prepared to send at least three reminders to most regular donors.  This allows for the fact that people who fully intend to renew their support will not forget.  As you know, sometimes those renewal reminders get misplaced.  Follow-up reminders do not offend and are actually appreciated – especially if they are worded appropriately.  Your second and third reminders might lead off with something like, “We hope you haven’t forgotten us…”  This lets the recipients know that you’re just issuing a friendly reminder.

There are, however, organizations that go too far.  Instead of persistent, they are pesky.  I gave to one such organization once, and have never given again, even though I believe in the organization’s mission.  They’ve become pesky.  For example:

  • I receive some e-mail almost daily from this group.  In addition to clogging my in-box, it always asks for more money.  If you are going to send regular e-mails to your donors, space them appropriately and make them informational, not simply requests for extra gifts. 

  • Before my first year was even up I received a renewal contact via telephone.  If you use telephone solicitation for renewals, at least give the mail/e-mail route a chance and save the telephone contact after all previous mail contacts have been exhausted. 

And make sure your telephone solicitors are trained to say something that demonstrates this is the last resort.  It might begin with something like, “I’m sorry to bother you this way.  We have sent you several reminders about renewing your support, and I just wanted to follow up in case those reminders had gotten lost.  I can take your renewal right now if it will save you time and trouble…”

If your fund raising crosses the line between persistent and pesky you risk losing more than you gain.  Evaluate your processes, your scripts, and your techniques.  If you’re not asking often enough, step up the process.  And if you’re being a pest, tone down the contacts.  

Need a short one to two hour consultation?  We offer both telephone and in-person consults at very reasonable rates.  Or sponsor ABCs of Fund Raising!  Contact me at for a quote to bring a half-day or full-day seminar to your community. 

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