Call Me Back … Please!

call backBy Aggie Sweeney

How many times have you sent a message to a donor and waited for a reply – and waited, and waited, and waited? You may be offering to provide information they requested, or trying to schedule a meeting they have agreed to. Harder still, you may be thanking them for their past support and asking for a chance to introduce yourself and take them on a tour of your organization.

When there’s silence, we all have a tendency to interpret it as, “Not interested, please don’t call me again.” But that would be a mistake! Your donors do care – but it’s up to you to get their attention.

Here are a few tips on leaving a message that will keep your organization “top of mind:”

Be positive, and always convey your honest interest in them.

  • “Sorry I missed you today! This morning I had a chance to preview our upcoming exhibition and I thought of you. I think you will really enjoy this era of Northwest art, so I want to make sure you have the dates. Please let me know when you are coming so I can say hello!”

Provide something of value.

  • “I know you are interested in helping people in need in our community. I just read this interesting article on the increase of poverty in the suburbs, and I wanted to share it with you. Perhaps we can meet soon and I can fill you in on how we are responding to this worrisome trend.”

Communicate through multiple channels, making it super easy to respond.

  • Leave a voice message and follow up with a personal note through the mail.
  • Post to their Facebook page and send a message on LinkedIn.

Ask them to take an action they can easily say, “Yes” to:

  • “We hope you enjoyed our gala last year. Please check your calendar for March 15. You will be receiving an invitation from us.”
  • “Your year-end gift last year helped Jesse to finish college. I know it is hard for you to get to campus, but I want to share Jesse’s story with you. I will call you back next week, but please consider if we could meet on Thursday or Friday.”

Assume your donors want to make a difference. Getting them to respond is hard, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about you. Be persistent, be personal, and above all, be genuine.

Aggie Sweeney is President & CEO of Collins Group.