I Only Hear From You. . .

. . . when you are asking for money.

Everyone has heard this comment.  Mostly from non-donors, but occasionally from donors as well.

One read of the comment is that the speaker wants more information about the institution and fewer solicitations.  In fact, that’s typically how a development professional frames this comment.  And the response is something like, “That’s not true, we send out an annual report that isn’t a solicitation, we send monthly e-updates that aren’t solicitations, etc.”

But I believe something different is going on.  I believe the speaker is really saying:

I only hear from you when you want to tell me something or you want me to give you something.

I believe they are complaining about one-way communication.  They view all of our communication – solicitation or no – as us pushing information on them.

But what if we systematically extended birthday wishes to them?  What if we regularly sent congratulatory notes when they receive a promotion or a new job?  What if we called when a child received an award or as congratulations for a wedding anniversary?  What if we made it a priority to capture important personal dates from our donors and then set-up our donor database or Outlook to remind us when those dates were approaching?

When we put into place systems to communicate with our donors on their terms and in ways that interest them, the number of solicitations we extend won’t matter as much.

1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Another option in this electronic age (probably not for all donors) would be to send out regular online surveys of a few questions related to a focused topic. You could even have a place at the end of the survey to ask them if they would like to have someone from the organization/institution call them to discuss their counsel. Not only would this process refute the “you only contact me when you want money” situation but it would provide valuable information about the attitudes and responses of donors/alumni/friends.

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