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 To Turn 'Out of Office' Into Opportunity
Have you ever put your time, energy, and emotion into a note to a donor, only to receive a dreaded "Out of the Office" auto-reply? It could feel like a punch to the gut for the effort you just put into your outreach. But in today's Fundraising Academy, I'm going to teach you a quick trick to turn those "OoO" replies into quick and personalized opportunities.
We've all been in the situation before where an Out of Office reply takes the wind out of our sails. Reasonably, it makes sense to take down the date that the recipient will be returning – perhaps even give them an extra day – and then respond to our original note with something that's a repeat of the first note:
- Noting that you reached them while they were out of the office.
- Hoping that their trip/vacation/time was well-spent.
- Asking them to read the chain of communication below.
Neither is this standard way to deal with Out of Office replies particularly effective nor gratifying.
But think like the fundraiser and people person who you are. What do you know about everyone's first day back in the office? There's typically a mountain of emails that you need to prioritize and dig out of. It's just a little bit harder to get going when you're starting back up. There's usually an extra cup of coffee or treat that folks use to motivate themselves on that first day back. And that's the key!
Whenever I see an Out of Office come from a donor, I make sure to mark the day that they'll be back. Then, I grab them a digital gift card from Starbucks or whatever coffee shop I know they use. I set a reminder on my calendar to email them early the day of their return – before the workday even starts – and I send them the gift card with a personal note.
This method is hands-down my favorite for getting donor responses. It doesn't always move a conversation forward right away, but it does move relationships forward, ensuring them that I am a real person with empathy for them. If this is something that you would like to give a try as you see more and more Out of Office notes roll into your inbox, here are a few subject lines that I recommend:
- OPEN THIS FIRST - Coffee on Me For Your Return to Office
- Early Pick Me Up for First Day Back
- This Morning's Coffee
- Today's First Mtg. (You + Coffee)
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.