Our research at BBS & Associates [servantheart.com] indicated that any personal connection strengthens the relationship with the donor. Ministries involving personal sponsorship of a child, a missionary, a staff member, or some other human being have a distinct advantage here. Without the personal connection, donors are likelier to express a sense of “distance” from the organization, perhaps even the feeling that it’s “purely a money relationship.” So a handwritten note, a heartfelt thank-you letter, a phone call expressing appreciation — particularly a warm “welcome call” to a first-time donor or (perhaps even better) a second-time donor — can make a significant difference. You might also call a donor when she gives her largest single gift, just to say thanks. Or arrange to place an annual call to every donor, or as many calls as are feasible, expressing gratitude and perhaps sharing a brief testimony reflecting the impact of the donor’s giving — but without any hint of a request for another contribution.
(It’s always crucial, of course, for the individual making the phone call to talk to the donor as a human being, not from a mechanical-sounding script and not in a stiff reading-the-script tone of voice.)
We recommend that ministries send more handwritten appeal letters, even assuming they have to be mass-produced. Handwriting signals lower expense, yet a more personal touch.
What donors are saying…
“It’s important that you feel appreciated.”
“[A phone call] always adds a degree of sincerity that you aren’t just a number and you are appreciated for what you do.”
What are you doing with donors to “get personal”?