A recent client success reminded me of the importance of gratitude and personal follow-up when unexpected generosity occurs. Last year, one of our private school clients received an unexpected $5,000 gift through North Texas Giving Day (NTGD). They were thrilled, but also pleasantly baffled, because the donors lived out-of-state, and no one on campus knew anything about them. Our assigned Project Partners consultant advised the head of school to reach out and thank them by phone and learn as much about them as she could. While the donor couldn’t be reached, the head of school left a heartfelt message. She also continued to send them updates about the school and stories of student successes, working to strengthen that relationship.
A full year later from that NTGD gift, the head of school reached out to the donors to see if they would consider a matching gift, to incentivize others to support the school’s mission on NTGD. This time, she reached the wife by phone and learned the couple used to live in Fort Worth and love the school’s mission, even though they have no direct association. Their reply to the matching gift request? “Yes. We’ll match up to $15,000.” Wow. The couple also accepted an invitation to tour the school next time they visit Fort Worth. With continued care of these incredible donors, they could be lifelong friends to this school.
This is a classic reminder of some donor relations fundamentals including:
Make it your priority to understand who the donor is and why they support your mission. With this understanding, you can personalize your approach to cultivating that relationship, potentially securing bigger gifts in the future.
Make it personal. Do not rely on auto-generated electronic or snail mail thank-you letters only. Pick up the phone, write personal e-mails, and invite them to mission-based events, to thank your donors and get to know them better.
If you are wondering how that matching gift approach for North Texas Giving Day worked this year, I can tell you that it’s a great story. Give me a call or stay tuned for a future edition of Good Advice.