I had some electrical work done in my basement recently, installing a new dedicated circuit for a sump pump. It was a $500 project by most accounts that I got a deal on for about half that via Angie’s List. You know the sort. Pure transaction for a Good Deal.
So the company didn’t make much money on my little project, which took almost every minute of the two hour maximum to complete.
And yet that very evening the owner of the company called me personally, leaving a detailed voice mail, to thank me for the work and to inquire as to my satisfaction. It was a thoughtful, personal call, detailing the project, the name of his electrician who did the work, and his mobile should I have any follow up questions or concerns.
Does this sound like something your organization’s CEO tends to do on a daily basis?
Let’s say it again – the owner of the company called me the same day as a recently completed project booked online via Angie’s List. As a low bid, with me looking to pay as little as I could to complete the work.
And the owner called me that same day.
To say thank you. And to seek my opinion and input.
Who am I calling the next time I need an electrician? Those guys.
Last year I supported around 25 organizations philanthropically. I got a written acknowledgement from about all of them, as well as some nice emails where I have a professional or personal relationship. Lovely.
But I got not one personal thank you call. Zero. In the past five years I can recall perhaps three thank you calls for gifts at any level.
In the end, what is the actual purpose of the Development office? Do we do magical persuasion, casting spells of generosity? Are we gala organizers? Are we simply the department who argue with marketing about the calendar? The folks who complain about the Board’s generosity?
This work really isn’t that complicated. As fundraisers, we share opportunity. We cultivate relationships. We seek out investment based on a clear mission and alignment with a community’s needs and values. We share with our prospects and supporters our good works. We host $5,000 salad lunches. And we say thank you.
But do we say thank you often enough? In working with nearly fifty organizations over the past 17 years I can honestly that regular thank you calls are almost universally inconsistent at every organizational size and budget. It simply is not the priority it should be, anyplace. The intentions are there to prioritize regular thank you calls, but not the will, nor the commitment.
I wonder how this can be. And increasingly I am afraid it is due to a lack of sincere gratitude to donors for what they do. Not what they could do. Not what they should do. What they’ve done.
We work so hard to ask and ask and ask. Our beautifully crafted solicitation letters. Our vodka infused themed special events. Our 40-page sponsorship proposals. It is a lot of work. And, secretly, we are mad and hurt and confused that so few donors actually support us. And so we take for granted those that do. And we don’t call our donors to say thank you.
This isn’t about millennials (though it is true that younger professionals need to work on their phone game) but about all of us. No one is making enough thank you calls, anywhere.
How many thank you calls did you make last week? How many did your CEO make on your organization’s behalf? What would be the impact upon your shabby donor retention if someone made a thank you call for every gift, even the little ones?
What is more important than this?