The triage of thanking your donors

Telephone calls to thank donors for giving are a powerful investment. Research shows shows calls can increase first-year retention by 30%. The impact of calls on ongoing retention, upgrading, and likelihood to give a charitable bequest is huge.

You should call and thank every donor, every time they give.

But what if you don’t have the staff or resources to do that?

Then you have to apply a sort of calling triage, focussing your efforts where the impact is greatest. Here’s some help on making those decisions from the Bloomerang Blog, at If you can’t call and thank every donor, who should be priorities?

Must-call donors:

  • Major donors
  • New $100+ donors

Good-to-call donors: Mid-level, ongoing donors.

Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Call as many as you can. If you hit the bottom of the list and still have some capacity for calling, add to it by extending calls down the donation amounts: Call more new donors. Dip below your typical definition of mid-level.

Get as close to the goal of all donors, every donation as you can get.


Comments

2 responses to “The triage of thanking your donors”

  1. [Please delete if this is not allowed.] All of this is spot-on. We’ve seen 2nd gift conversion as high as 90% within 24 months when a timely call was utilized. For Cultivation donors $10+, we normally see gift frequency increases starting at 30%. The only modification I would suggesting is prioritizing NEW $25+ donors at the top of the list. We (Nimble Connect) specialize specifically in thank you phone calls – normally within a week of gift processing – to all donors that can’t be called by internal staff or board members. (yes, we process files for each client, each week to make sure the calls are timely…this is critical).

  2. [Please delete if this is not allowed.] All of this is spot-on. We’ve seen 2nd gift conversion as high as 90% within 24 months when a timely call was utilized. For Cultivation donors $10+, we normally see gift frequency increases starting at 30%. The only modification I would suggesting is prioritizing NEW $25+ donors at the top of the list. We (Nimble Connect) specialize specifically in thank you phone calls – normally within a week of gift processing – to all donors that can’t be called by internal staff or board members. (yes, we process files for each client, each week to make sure the calls are timely…this is critical).

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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