WANTED: Wealthy Strangers
“Stop obsessing about wealthy strangers and start caring more for your current donors.”
– TAMMY ZONKER
But there is some good news. Odds are you have wealthy estrangers in your database right now. Estrangers, meaning donors who are estranged from you – no longer giving, but previously felt inspired by your work.
The most recent data released from the Association of Fundraising Professionals reveals in the U.S., we are only retaining 46% of our donors annually, and less than 30% of our first-time donors. Further 66% of donor survey respondents report they stopped giving because they believe you don’t care about them. Feels like a dagger straight to the heart, doesn’t it?
Rather than seeking relationships with wealthy strangers, why not turn our attention to your current database in search of rekindling the flame with past lovers of your mission? You already have a historical relationship built on shared values. So, what are you waiting for?
Next steps to rekindling love with lapsed major gift candidates:
A. Pull and review database information about donors lapsed 3 years or less. You may choose to go further back, but resurrecting cold cases gets more difficult the longer they’ve lapsed. Consider the following criteria to qualify top candidates:
- Number of years giving at any level
- Cumulative gift value total
- Capacity rating
- Areas of philanthropic interest
- Reason(s) for lapsing with your organization, if known
- Known relationships with other supporters and/or board members
- Ask a Board Member or your Executive Director to reach out to thank them for their past support via a phone call. Or perhaps you want to make the first contact.
- Invite them to reconnect in-person, update them on your organization or sincerely ask for advice. Determine the most powerful discovery questions you can ask during that first in-person meeting. If the donor has an unresolved issue that resulted in them lapsing, discuss and work to resolve it.
- Perhaps invite them (and their spouse or partner if appropriate)to attend a programmatic event related to their primary area of interest in your organization. For example, an invitation to attend a dress rehearsal for an arts performance. A Spring program at the elementary or high school. A pet adoption day at the animal shelter. An advocacy day at the Capitol. Lunch at camp for kids with cancer.
- Send a handwritten note of gratitude following each face-to-face engagement.
- Possibly send or better yet, hand-deliver a mission-focused token of appreciation. For example, a child’s piece of art, a dozen cookies from the culinary program, a bouquet of daffodils from the nature preserve. A handmade friendship bracelet from a Girl Scout troop. You get the idea.
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