Monday, January 5, 2009

A Good Habit to Start

So I'm back at work. Dragged myself in if you want to know the truth. Now it is dark and I'm about to drive home (over an hour). Part of what I do everyday (hopefully) before I leave the office is sign tax receipts. We promise a 48 hour turn around on this and try to do it.

We have a lot today given we were on holiday. So it was quiet and I was signing and thinking (dangerous - can't seem to stop lately).

A lot of us read stuff or learn it at conferences but never actually do it. About seven years ago I read Thanks! by Penelope Burke. She suggested fundraisers end everyday by phoning donors and thanking them for their gift. When I started this job four years ago as Executive Director I was so grateful that I had control over this and could actually commit to doing it. It has become a habit.

I get the receipt, look at their cheque for clues - like wiggly writing (planned giving prospect) private banking account (rich) or special logos (WWF - competition and interest), then I check the database to look at their giving history. I don't really have a policy on who I phone. Whoever I feel like talking too really.

Some prompts are:

- renewed after a long time
- increased donation
- decreased donation
- gave me their number (hint they want to talk!)
- wrote a note on the pledge form
- gave very generously for them

It could be anything. Since I work in a small shop I can micro manage donations and receipting like this. That is probably one of the reasons I find small shops so satisfying.

I absolutely LOVE this part of my day. It doesn't matter what else happened. Phoning donors just to say thanks is fun!!! Do it tomorrow - it will make you smile.

I think I'll reference my post from last week about what I learned in a new series - What I'm Actually Doing. Would that be interesting?

Here is a hint of what else I did today....could be number one on the next series of blogs. I will give bonus point to anyone who can figure out what learning from last year I am applying here.

BTW: that red list on the right - that is what I have to do tomorrow.

Thank you for spending time here,


  1. My very first development job was for a mission sending agency that had been around for 50 years. I loved my phone calls with our donors and often, after a call, I would leave with the biggest smile on my face.

    You're right, Kimberely, if people haven't done this before, they should do it now. They won't regret it.

  2. The "fun" part of fundraising that is for sure! Thank you for your comment Leanne - Keep smiling. k

  3. I think you're absolutely right. THANK YOU are the most important, the most powerful words we can use, especially as the financial crisis builds in the coming months. Organisations who say 'thank you' as often as possible, who tell donors what they've done with their money, and who give donor-focussed feedback, will enter the summer months with many more active donors than those who persist with sending ask after ask.

    By the way, I really enjoyed your session on sofii at the IFC in Amsterdam, so it's good to have found your blog!"

    Anyway, best wishes from this side of the pond!


  4. Thank you Matt! This one is easy to get behind. Thank you for taking the time comment -Your blog is great too! Next time we are both at IFC we have to connect.

  5. that's great Kimberley. I couldnt agree with you more (so much so Im going to post about it).

    Im big into the Thank you. I have seen it done really well and really badly (and I have been part of doing it really badly..shame on me!). But we all know how great it is to have someone just say...Thanks and this is what it means to us.

    I posted before about this in a post called Director of Appreciation Appointed:

  6. I want to be a "Director of Appreciation"! Thank You Conor. Interesting the reaction this post has had. My response to a friend privately is that I didn't really think this was a big deal. Doesn't even feel like fundraising really. AND "Thank you for today and goodnight" is a common refrain around our office.

    Honestly I feel like it is odd this is even a subject of conversation. I would be very interested in hearing more about how Thank You could be done badly. Write to me privately if you know since you are such a shy person!

  7. PS Also interesting that no one is guessing what I'm doing in the picture....anyone?

  8. Oh so many examples Kimberley! What mostly comes to mind is the times that donors just got a generic thank you letter and that was it, the next time they heard from me was asking them to do something again. What haunts me most is the fact that:a) the copy was so bad...why do we spend so much time and effort on the copy for our direct mail but our thank you letters were so weak.b) the fact that people who supported the organisation in such different ways got the same letter. There were times when we were sending out a letter to a school who had run an event for us and the same letter was going to someone who had made an unsolicited donation...Even now Im cringing as I type this. Within reason we should be writing thank you letters that are as personal as possible. It reminds me of the time I saw a thank you note being sent out to guests after a wedding where the couple just inserted the guests gift in a box and the rest was just a generic typed note!PS are you putting X's on a map?

  9. Wow! How do you sleep at night?

    Again the benefits of working in a small organization I suppose.

    PS. No not X's....

  10. Connor's my new "transparency hero".