This post comes from the Gravyty Fundraising Academy, a series that examines how fundraisers adapt and strategize to evolve what's possible through philanthropy.
Your guide for the Gravyty Fundraising Academy is Director of Customer Success, Lisa Alvezi. Lisa has worked with countless fundraisers across Higher Education, Health Care, and Nonprofit organizations to transform fundraising. As a former frontline fundraiser herself, her goal is to help you see better results from your fundraising efforts.
How Soon is Too Soon for Follow-up to a Cold Call?
Imagine you’ve just been asked to contact a list of donors you’ve never met to determine their affinity to your organization and potential for increased giving over time. Before you even start, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with why the donor was assigned to a “discovery portfolio”. Maybe they attended an event, made a first gift, increased a gift, or maybe even popped on the radar from a recent wealth screening. Either way, they'll be getting an email from you.
That initial outreach to the donor should be a stewardship touchpoint to thank them for their gift. Make sure you let them know how it will be used to support your mission, and find out what prompted it. Chances are pretty good you are also asking the donor for a good time to connect over the phone to talk about their involvement. Just one problem: you got absolutely no response.
You are faced with the dilemma of whether or not you should follow up with this donor, and if so, then when? There's a fine line to walk between properly acknowledging their interest in your organization and coming off as a pest!
Ideally, your email should inform the donor that they should expect a phone call from you in the next couple of days to thank them for their support. With caller ID, many people will not answer the phone unless they recognize the caller. If you leave a voicemail, make sure you personalize it! You don’t want it to sound like a scripted robocall. Let them know that there is a person on the other end of the phone.
What's important is you don't wait too long to make that call. At most, you should make that first phone call within 5 days.
Still no response? Make another phone call to the donor one week later. Any longer than that and your organization may no longer be top of mind.
Although emails can be less time consuming to send, they are also easily deleted by the recipient. Studies show that in-person communication is best, followed by a video call where you are able to read facial expressions and body language. However, most of us are experiencing Zoom fatigue right now, so a phone call is the best solution for the moment.
How many times should you reach out to this donor before you get the feeling they aren’t interested in having a conversation with you? Four to six attempts is the standard number of attempts gift officer make before returning a donor to the general solicitation pool. They may also put that donor in a pool to follow up again in six months or a year.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your organization to have a culture of philanthropy, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, click the button below and let's connect.