Use Down Time This Summer to Improve Donor Communications

You may find yourself slowing down this summer, preparing for a busy fall of working with donors. Instead, consider spending any free time you may have reflecting on these important activities that shouldn’t be overlooked.

1. Focus on more effective communications with your donors. While it may be easiest to provide information on a single subject to the entire constituency, that’s probably not the best approach. Some recipients may find the content too elementary, while others may feel over-informed.

Instead, match certain donors with subjects that are appropriate to them at their stage of life. For example, you may choose to only send information on life income plans to older donors. That way, only those who can most benefit from a certain gift plan receive information about it, saving valuable budget dollars. See below for information on how SharpeNet Data Services can help you segment your donor list.

Note: Information on year-end giving may be an exception. Virtually anyone planning a gift this year can benefit from a reminder to have the gift completed by December 31.

2. Make final decisions about how you plan to communicate with donors this year-end. You’ve probably already placed year-end gift communications on your schedule. Now is the time to move forward with your plans. Perhaps you plan to piggy back information with thank-you letters. Or maybe you are collaborating with your annual fund director (or equivalent) to produce a special mailing or insert year-end materials in pledge reminders. In any event, have you selected materials? Now is the time to make sure all details of your communications with donors are in the works.

3. Watch current events, but don’t be paralyzed by them. Pay attention to investment market trends, but emphasize the basics like timing of deductions and the advantages of gifts such as appreciated stocks and other assets.

4. Call and visit donors and prospective donors. Many of your prospective donors may be on vacation or otherwise unavailable this summer, but plan to visit those who can see you. Summer is down time for many, and they may thus be more receptive to personal contact. Use your time to catch up on calls and visits.

5. Say thanks. Use every opportunity to say thank you when visiting, talking or writing to people. Don’t forget to thank the families and professional advisors who may notify you of pending estates. Though this basic rule of etiquette may sometimes be ignored, it’s the foundation upon which future gifts may be built.

A rewarding time

Using this month to further plans in place and catch up on special and important tasks can make the “dog days” of summer a rewarding and memorable time. Your actions may offer payoffs for many months to come.

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