December Major Gift Countdown for Success

December-2015-Calendar-Images-3 (002) You are so busy! December is packed with work and personal obligations. The key? Set priorities.

  1. This week, (December 1-4), list every $1,000+ donor and prospective donor yet to make a gift. Moving from the top down, assign someone to make a personal call. At the very top of the list, if possible, invite for coffee.  Try not to rely on email. Pick up the phone! If $1,000 is too low because you have too many donors at the level, go to $2,500 or $5,000. If $1,000 is too high, start at $250 or $500. Whatever your situation, work the top of your pyramid.
  2. Next week, (December 7-11), list every donor who gave you $1,000+ in the last six months. If you’re a small shop, Every $1,000+ gift n 2015. Big shop with too many donors at that level, move up the pyramid and/or make the time frame shorter. Call. Say thank you again. Specify the difference he, she, the family, the foundation, the company made.  Get help with these calls. Everyone on the team can make a call a day. Mission staff and board members can call. Students, clients. “I hope you received our holiday card. Just wanted to add my voice. We appreciate all you’ve done to help (the people or cause you serve). Your investments have made a significant difference. Thank you.”
  3. Week three, (December 14-17), finish your calls and cards by Thursday. If you’re behind, save some to wish a Happy New Year the first week of January.
  4. Week three, (December 14-17), review the data you want collected for January assessment and planning. Ouch. It’s been all fun up until now. Closing and thanking. But we have to hit the ground running January 4. At a minimum:
    • Retention rates for all $1,000+ (ideally for all gifts of every size). New donors, donors giving for 2-4 years, donors giving 5 plus years. If you’re able, do it by giving program — monthly donors, direct mail, phone, board solicitations and so forth.
    • Upgrade rates. Percentage of donors who were asked to increase and said yes. Percentage who upgraded without a specific request.
    • Yes rates. Percentage of yeses to requests; percentage of yeses to 85% or more of the amount requested at the $1,000+ levels.
    • Progress against goals. How are you doing?
    • Check out this free recorded webinar on metrics.
Throughout the month, remember to take care of yourself. Try to find time to exercise, even if it’s only a quick walk at lunch time, or walking during phone calls. Keep in mind that office and donor holiday parties are working events. Either don’t drink or nurse a glass. Covey QuoteAre you good at power napping? Put your feet up above your heart (on a desk for example). Close your eyes for 20 minutes before an event.
And say, “No thank you.” It’s okay. No matter the request or requestor. You are a December major gift priority. For more on saying no, check out this blog post.

The Benefits of “Wow”: Donor Retention, Upgrades

Consistent sameness does not delight.  Of course, it is important to stay in touch with our donors. To thank them for every monthly gift, every pledge payment. To make a special fuss about a new donor, welcoming her to the family. To invite our donors to fireworksspecial events. Most importantly, report to them, in concrete and specific ways, the impact their investments helped us realize.  These strategies are the cornerstone of donor retention.  But…  ho hum.

Timeliness and consistency have real value.But sameness leads to boredom or worse. We can miss out on viral marketing for sure. Often, sameness leads to the stagnant gift levels, no upgrades. And if the donor isn’t watching the video, reading the impact report, attending the scholarship luncheon, your efforts may not inspire the donor retention you seek.

Wow moments, on the other hand, work magic.

In Seth Godin’s blog he makes the case for, “Amazing is what spreads.”  Think about a time when a company “wowed” you as a consumer. Perhaps a hotel, online dealer, car repair service or supermarket delighted you with exceptional customer service or an unexpected kindness…

Our missions, visions and the work we do should “wow” our donors. But our donors have many charities on their lists and all of those charities do worthy and impressive work. So how do we stand out? How do we amaze and delight, not consistently, but sometimes, just enough to wow our donors?  So, what makes a WOW moment?

  1. Surprise. If you think about those moments when you were delighted with customer service, when you said, “Wow,” chances are the kindness rendered was a surprise.
  2. Exceed expectations. The surprise factor goes a long way, but when the reaction to the situation is not only unexpected but is above and beyond what you’ve experienced in other similar situations, the delight meter soars.
  3. Get personal. A wow moment feels personal, tailored to me, designed around my personality, situation, needs.
  4. Be authentic. It doesn’t feel canned, rehearsed, planned (even if it is)
  5. …and responsive, timely. Something went wrong and you fixed it. Something went right and you acknowledged it on the spot, within hours.

And don’t forget to wow your internal audiences. Underappreciated and undervalued staff members will find it difficult to surprise and delight your donors. Joe Connelly of CBS radio and the Wall Street Journal reported, “Retention is the new acquisition and customer service is the new marketing.” Finds ways to amaze and delight your donors. Wow your way to donor retention, upgrades and viral marketing!

How are you wowing your donors?