The Best Time to Contact Donors
Patricia | Nov. 18, 2009

handsJeff Brooks always makes great points in his column for Fundraising Success magazine, but a recent column about how often an organization should ask for donations had several. And it looks like the best time to contact potential donors is…

Any time.

I’ve yet to find any evidence that asking donors less makes them more responsive. In every test I’ve seen of contact frequency, donors on reduced-contact schedules give less often and lapse at higher rates.

Donations are not mere transactions; they are the result of a relationship between you and your donor, and relationships are complicated. A donor’s decision to give might not be motivated only by the piece of mail she received today, but by a whole matrix of interactions. It may take two, three or more points of contact to create the tipping point that leads to a gift.

A more paranoid way to look at it: While you are letting your donors “rest,” someone else is talking to them, asking for gifts — and possibly getting them!

The fundraiser/donor relationship is like any other human relationship: Communication builds it; lack of contact can strangle it.

Brooks also has a wonderful idea for how to stay in touch.

Send newsletters: Donors usually respond positively to newsletters. They are a great way to thank donors and show them what their giving accomplishes. For many organizations, newsletters are as effective at raising funds as appeal letters — sometimes better. If you aren’t sending a newsletter, start now!

Hey, why didn’t I think of that? Oh yeah, I did.

Newsletters are one of the best ways organizations can help donors understand and support their missions. They are also a great vehicle for donor recognition. A profile of the donor and what it is about your cause that reaches them offers far better gratification than a plaque, and might help those reading it get their own ideas.

Don’t assume that because something is on your web site, it’s top of mind for potential donors. Send them a newsletter and if it’s well-executed,* you’ll be hearing from them soon.

P.S. The same advice holds for contacting current and potential clients as well.

* Call Got Lucky Communications, and it will be!

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