You’re having trouble getting donors to pick up the phone and talk to you. I know this because Richard and I get this question from major gift officers all the time: “How do I get a donor to talk to me?”

You know, at Veritus our staff is working with over 200 mid-level and major gift officers at any one time. A great thing about this is that we’re always trying new ways to connect to donors.

Today I’m going to give you a practical tip that you can use. Our Director of Client Services, Lisa Robertson, uses this with her mid-level and major gift officers. It’s working tremendously as they try to qualify donors and get them to engage.

Here it is:

  1. Phone call: No answer (which happens about 95% of the time) or leave a voicemail message.
  2. Email: On the SAME day you make the phone call, send an email to that donor saying you left a message or tried to call. Here is what you might say in the email:

Hi Mary,

I tried calling you today, but there was no answer. I’m following up on my introduction letter that I mailed last week. I’d love to learn more about what has inspired your giving to ORG. Would you be willing to share your story with me?

Please feel free to contact me at any time. Lastly, would you prefer I reach you by phone or email?

Thank you,

Now, this same language can be included in a handwritten note when the fundraiser can’t get through on the phone and has no email address for the donor.

So, it goes like this:

  1. Phone attempt: Bad number/no email
  2. Handwritten card: Mails same day that you tried to reach out by phone (“The phone number I have for you is incorrect.”)

We’ve been getting many more responses from donors using this two-step strategy, and the mid-level and major gift officers are elated because they’re finally making some headway with donors.

Look – as mid-level or major gift fundraisers, you know that getting a donor to engage with you is tough. Sometimes it can be really disheartening, and you feel like you’re failing.

We get it.

Try this two-step strategy. And keep at it! Remember, it can take up to 7-9 touches before a donor connects with you. But those fundraisers that stay the course eventually get rewarded. And if after all that time a donor still doesn’t engage with you, bless them and let them go. You now know you’ve done all you can to qualify them and connect.


This post originally appeared on the Passionate Giving Blog on June 10, 2019.