How to Be Heard

You’re overwhelmed right now. Worried, too.

So are your donors.

It’s the biggest double whammy fundraisers can face. Uncertain times, and the last weeks of the year – aka, giving season.

How to give these last eight weeks the best you’ve got? You know how.

Stick to your plan. Don’t be tempted to take on too much. Focus like crazy on the one most important thing to accomplish every day.

Get personal. Send handwritten notes with live stamps. And not just one or two a week! Round up volunteers and make your “lybunt” campaign a handwritten letter campaign! It will not fail you.

The bigger question is not you, but your donors. How can you get your donors to listen? To answer your call or email? How can your message be important to them?

Here’s how.

“Please, call 911!” That request is urgent. When we hear that, we respond right away. What can move our donors to action? Communicating  the urgency of our cause.  

Will that student be able to return to school next semester with a scholarship? That’s urgent. Hunger is urgent. A homeless family sleeping in their car is urgent. How can you communicate the urgent nature of your work to your donors?

Good fundraising centers on the relationship we have with our donors. What is the basis for any strong relationship? Good communication.

Here are five more ideas that can “move the needle” with your donors during these last weeks of the year:

Pleasant Persistence. Think for a moment about your competition. (Yes, you have competition for your donors’ philanthropy.) They’re not being shy about staying in touch. Don’t be shy. But please, don’t be a pain. Stay gently but persistently in front of your donors, keeping the ball in your court. Time and again, think “what next step can I take that would make sense, seem appropriate, to this donor?” One of the best things is:

Good news. Be relentless in sharing good news about your organization with your donors. The good news you share may be the only good news they hear today. “Mary and George, I knew you’d want to see this!” A note, a letter, the website, an email. Donors will think, “You know what? Those folks are winners.” And donors flock to winners.

Kindness. Keep your radar up for any and every opportunity to express kindness to your top donors. Someone is sick? Chicken soup. Bakery goods on their doorstep, or an online card. Whatever you do or consider doing needs to meet the litmus test of “What would seem appropriate and not over the top, not phony, to this donor?” Hint: Thanksgiving.

Don’t Look for New Worlds to Conquer Right Now. The 4th quarter of the year is the time to focus your attention on who loves your organization – now. There will be plenty of time for new outreach in the new year. Not now. Are there donors waiting for you to ask them? Gifts waiting to be closed? That’s where your focus should be.

The Big 4: Are there gifting opportunities your donors may not remember, or may not think you will accept? You can bet the ranch on that. Gifts of Appreciated Stock. A gift from their Donor-Advised Fund. A Qualified Charitable Distribution from their IRA. A bequest intention. All ways for donors to help, other than cash. Share those ideas.

All ways for us to help our donors do the great things they want to do.

Have a good week, my friends.