[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

March 14, 2017

Outside of the Ask: "Why Do I Hear from You Only When You Want Money?"

imageOuch! "I only hear from you when you want money" is the most difficult feedback to receive from donors! We know donors aren't ATMs; they are real people who care about our mission. However, based on an objective appraisal of a fundraiser's communication plan, one can see how donors may feel like the relationship is a bit one-sided.

For donors, "no news" is not "good news." Rather, "communication equals appreciation."

Sincere, regular communication - without an ask at the end - may be the easiest and most cost-effective way to appreciate donors and build loyalty. Here are ideas for you to consider as you review your communication plan:

Regular newsletters
Review your past editions. Do they include a soft ask? They most often do. In the donor's mind, that simple, innocent addition changes the format from a relational communication to a transactional solicitation. Periodically, focus only on sharing success stories without asking for a gift.

Handwritten notes

Consider sending your most loyal and long-standing donors, as well as all your large-gift donors, a handwritten note. It can be a very simple message, including an article featuring the organization, a photo of clients or something of special interest to the donor. Few fundraisers do this, and it will set your organization apart from others, because you took the time to connect with them as individuals and not just as donors.

Personal phone calls
Personal phone calls are another easy and inexpensive way to set you apart from other nonprofits vying for donors' attention. For example, one nonprofit was in urgent need of a roof repair and a few donors had given generously to meet the need. Shortly after, on a rainy afternoon, the executive director called each one of the donors to thank them again, personally. "I wanted to let you know what we are not doing today, thanks to you! Without your help, the staff and I would have been running around with buckets, catching rain water this afternoon. Instead, we are busy serving people in need." Those donors will never forget the personal phone call.

The average donor supports four or more organizations in a big way. To ensure your organization stays near the top of the list, consider how you can communicate with donors outside of the ask.

Janell Johnson, Senior Vice President (Wilmington, N.C.)


logoJoin Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour

Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook's mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:

Washington, D.C.
March 21, 2017

Federal Trade Commission & National Association of State Charities
Give & Take: Consumers, Contributions, and Charity Conference
Adrian Sargeant

March 27, 2017

National School Foundation Association Conference
How to Retain Your Donors and Build Their Loyalty for Lifetime Giving
Karin Cox

March 28, 2017

National School Foundation Association Conference
Thinking Big (Even if Your Nonprofit is Small):
Major Gifts and Legacy Giving
Lead Roundtable: Karin Cox

Kansas City
April 2-5, 2017

Association of Fundraising Professionals Mid-America Chapter
Demystifying Capital Campaigns
Matt Beem

Kansas City
April 4, 2017

Association of Jewish Aging Services
Demystifying Capital Campaigns
Matt Beem

French Lick, Ind.
April 5-7, 2017

Boy Scouts of America
2017 Central Region All Hands Conference

San Francisco
April 30 - May 2, 2017

AFP International Fundraising Conference
Successful Fundraising Events: Just What Does It Take to Be Best in Class
Adrian Sargeant

May 10-12, 2017

Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference
Relationship Fundraising 2.0
Adrian Sargeant

May 23-24, 2017

Third Sector's Annual Fundraising Conference
Thinking Outside the Box: Everything You Wanted to Know about Donor Behaviour
Adrian Sargeant

June 9, 2017

AFP Houston Chapter
Adrian Sargeant

New Orleans
June 15, 2017

New Orleans Association of Fundraising Professionals Conference
Adrian Sargeant

July 4, 2017

IoF Fundraising Convention 2017
Great Fundraising Events
Adrian Sargeant

Richmond, Va.
July 19-20, 2017

Virginia Fund Raising Institute
Innovating Philanthropy
Karin Cox
John Warren
Presenting Sponsor: Hartsook

August 2, 2017

Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits
Massive Fundraising
Adrian Sargeant

Oklahoma City
August 2017

Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits
Relationship Building: Where Do We Go From Here?
Adrian Sargeant

Scotland, U.K.
October 23-25, 2017

Alan Clayton Associates
Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

Scotland, U.K.
February 7-9, 2018

Alan Clayton Associates
Great Fundraising Masterclass

Past Stops on the Tour

Resources for Smart Fundraising Available on Kindle

Keep up to date on the latest fundraising trends with the Kindle ASR Media collection:

Book Deal of the Monthimage

On The Money! (ASR Media) is an enlightening collection of success stories and lessons learned from 25 nonprofit fundraising campaigns nationwide. Click here to order On the Money! for a special price of $10 (plus shipping and handling).

On the Web


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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you'd like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].

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