After learning how we work closely with nonprofit organizations, my new acquaintance explained that she recently had an unpleasant experience with one of her favorite charities. She was a loyal donor with a history of consistent, small gifts. She had received a phone call from the charity asking her to increase her monthly gift, but she could not afford to do it because she is on a fixed income. The caller thanked her for her support and said that they could no longer afford to send her their appeals and other materials.
Needless to say, my friend was both hurt and angry. What the caller didn’t know: My friend had already included the charity in her will and, as a result of this experience, she intended to take the charity out. While I hope she has had a change of heart (I did my best to encourage her to keep the charity in her plans), this story isn’t unique. All of us at Sharpe have heard about how bequests and other planned gifts were “lost” because of a lack of continued relationship-building with long-term older donors.
We advise our clients to continue mailing to donors that fit certain profiles and criteria—especially those who have given to you for a long period of time. Send anniversary and birthday cards, make phone calls just to say “thank-you.” If possible, make personal visits. All these things will build (and keep) relationships. You never know where that “gift of a lifetime” will come from! ■
Debbie Graham is Sharpe Group’s print production/packaging manager, where she manages all client and company printed communications.