There’s plenty you can’t do anything about.
You can’t, for instance, do anything that affects how a donor feels about the economy. Or the weather. Or, let’s say, about the President.
You can, however, definitely make an impact on the attitude a donor has for your organization.
What I am about to tell you is a powerful factor in determining whether your donor continues giving. If your attrition rate is in trouble, be certain to read on. (By the way, do you know what your attrition rate is? If you don’t, you’re not managing properly.)
I just saw the results of a recent study. How quickly the gift is acknowledged has a tremendous impact on the donor’s attitude regarding your organization.
The study shows that if the acknowledgement is a month or so after the gift is made (shame on you!), the donor barely remembers what urged her to make the gift in the first place. Even a delay of several weeks causes a donor to wonder how important his gift is to the organization. And a donor thinks that if the gift isn’t really making an impact, maybe they should look somewhere else to give their money.
If you have heard me on the subject, you know how important I feel a phone call is to someone who just made a gift. The call can come from a staff person, a volunteer, or a member of the board. By the way, thanking donors is a superb task for board members.
Studies show that even if you have to leave a voicemail, it still achieves a high impact. I recommend that if you get a machine on your first call, leave your name and indicate you will call back. The second time, do the same. The third time, you can leave a message, express your appreciation, and describe how important the gift is.
If you do the phone call quickly, in a day or two after you receive the gift, you can take a bit more time in getting out the receipt and the letter of acknowledgement.
Just remember— attrition is your enemy.