“I don’t know why they keep calling me,” said the frustrated donor. “I’ve told the person (the organization’s MGO) that I don’t like talking on the phone and to please email me. But he just keeps calling!”

This is one of the most abusive things a MGO or PGO can do – that is, not paying attention to what the donor has requested.

But this happens all the time – mostly because front-line fundraisers don’t take the time to identify each qualified donor’s communication preferences. Or, if the donor has already told the fundraiser what they prefer, the fundraiser hasn’t paid attention to what the donor has said.

This is so interesting to Jeff and me. I mean, if you stop and think about it, we all have communication preferences. For instance, mine is email. I would rather talk first on email and then engage in other media like phone, text, face-to-face, video conference etc. I just feel more comfortable looking at what the person has written, being able to think about it and then responding. I can’t do this on the phone or via video conference, which are more in real time.

To be clear, knowing a donor’s communication preferences is a critical piece of your communication strategy with your donors. Critical. You cannot and should not ignore it or relegate it to some unimportant category of work. If you expect to be successful in your job, you must figure this out and apply it to your management of every donor relationship.

So, my question for you today is this: do you know your donor’s communication preferences? If not, you have work to do. Here’s all you need to do. Just ask your donor the following question: “Hi, DONOR NAME, I want to be sure I’m communicating with you in a manner that is comfortable for you. So, may I ask you a question? (pause for response) What’s the best way to communicate with you – email, phone, text, video conference or, when COVID allows, in-person meetings?”

Then, pause for response and dialogue. And if the donor is ambivalent, try to lead her to a conclusion on which method is most comfortable for her. You’ll find that most donors are quick to give you their preference, especially the ones who are qualified and want to talk to you.

So, please engage in some sort of dialogue with each of your donors using the ideas above. It will show the donor that you respect them and want to honor them in your communication.