With Thanksgiving around the corner, the holiday season is once again upon us. This is the time of year most development directors brace themselves for, what with the flurry of obligatory events and mailings and abundant outpouring of goodwill from donors and volunteers.
Why not get out ahead of the flood with a Thanksgiving thank-a-thon? People remember a personal "thank you," and, right now, on the front edge of the holiday season, you have full license to call them for no other reason than to say "thank you."
How many donors has your organization had in the last year? If it's oh-so-many thousands, you'll need to stratify and choose which ones to call and thank. If it's oh-so-few, call them all. Yes, call—not a note. Notes and cards are fine too, but they don't get remembered the way a call does.
Make your list. Assemble a core team of callers, made up of people of some stature within your organization. Ideally, board members who are a bit chatty and well organized. Staff members can be part of the team, but the more volunteers the better. Include the executive director as one of your callers. Be sure all the callers are excited about calling to thank your donors. No one should feel pressured to make these calls.
You can bring the callers all together for an evening of eggnog and cookies, or dole out the lists and have them call from home or office. Daytime calls and leaving a message is fine.
Here is a sample script for your callers to use whether they end up leaving a voice message or actually speaking with the donor:
"Hello, may I please speak to __? My name is _____, I'm (on the board of/a volunteer or staff member with ______). I was just calling to say thank you for your support this year. It has allowed us to (serve __ more families, open a new program, keep the doors open). We truly appreciate your support."
If the caller actually reaches a real person, they may chat a bit. The caller should be prepared with a few specific examples of what "the generous gifts from donors like you" have made possible, such as anonymous stories of families or individuals served. Should the donor ask a specific question that a volunteer caller is unable to answer, they can always refer the question to a staff member for a call back.
What are you telling the donor with this call?
- We noticed that you gave.
- Your gift mattered.
- We appreciate you.
That's exactly what a donor needs to know to keep giving year after year. Of course, be sure to sincerely thank your callers. Consider making this an annual Thanksgiving season event.