When I’m being a fundraising coach, I tend to coach nonprofit CEOs and executive directors. One of my primary tasks I try to help them build into their rhythm is for them is to make 5 – 10 major donor calls each week.

But since CEOs aren’t managing a large portfolio of donors, what do you do if you’ve already called and emailed your prospect list a few times?

Give thanks

Still make the calls. Just shift them from the “asking” part of the relationship to the “loving” part. For example, a wonderful use of these calls is to call past donors and to thank them.

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Look for people who’ve given in the last 90 days.
  2. Find an inspiring story of impact to use as the reason for the call. Don’t over complicate this. It can be the same story for all the calls. And it can be the same story that was just used in a mailing or newsletter.
  3. Call each person:
    • Thank them for their support.
    • Share the impact story, making sure they know their gift helped make that impact happen.
    • Find out how your nonprofit came to their attention (if you don’t know).
    • Ask if they know others who might want to [impact] too.
  4. Thank them again. [Impact] like that couldn’t happen without generous people like them.
  5. Log the call into your donor management tool with any notes.
  6. Move on to the next donor.

You will grow to love these calls. Not only is sharing gratitude wonderful, but you’ll also learn the exact phrases others use in talking about your work.

When it comes to thinking of an impact story, don’t over think it. You’re typically not looking for a story that impresses you. The work you do every day is amazing to somebody. The donor can’t do the work you do. So it is amazing.

Too often, we get jaded about our own work. It seems mundane or boring. So we look for the super-amazing-once-in-a-lifetime thing to share with donors. Since finding those stories is so hard, we procrastinate making thank you calls.

Instead, think of something that happened in the past seven days. A conversation you had with a recipient. A document that was scanned and is now available to everyone online. A challenging question from a staff member that is going to improve your work.

A Possible Script for These Major Donor Calls

Be as specific and concrete as you can. The gist of what you might say could be:

“Thank you so much for your support.

“You might be surprised by the impact you are having. Just last week, I had a challenging question from our programs director, questioning the way we schedule the elder care programming.

“Her question led us to start making changes to help adult children pick up and drop off their parents during non-rush hour traffic.

“Your support, and that of others like you, helps us hire the best. People who love the seniors and love them enough to constantly improve how we serve them.

“Thank you.”

Obviously, make the words your own. You’ll likely want to make time for the donor to respond. And after your initial thanks, you might even precede this by asking, “Do you have time for a quick story?”

…and get referrals

A bonus tip could be to ask the donor, “Do you know of anyone else who needs to know about this work?” Or “Do you know anyone else who’d like to join you in supporting this work?” Or even, “Who else would you suggest I connect with about this work?”

Asking for referrals helps bring the donor closer to the nonprofit. And helps you expand your prospect list for free.

But first thank. Even if you stop on the thanks and forget the referrals, you’re still improving the results of your fundraising.

I think you’ll grow to love these calls. If you try them, leave a comment to let us know how they go!

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