Fundraising old school

by Jini Stolk

The phone can still be a powerful instrument.

I was reminded of this during a discussion with an arts admin friend about the challenges of…encouraging…an artistic director to call and thank donors. I sympathize: it can be an embarrassing prospect, at first. But it’s usually a wonderful pleasure to receive that call.

This series of articles by Bethan Holloway makes a strong case for the telephone as an important fundraising tool. Higher response rates and higher repeat giving are among the five good reasons listed.

When you think about it, the opportunity to connect personally with the artists is an area where small organizations have a competitive advantage over larger ones. A $50 donation to the Stratford Festival will probably not net you an invitation to meet the artistic director for a chat after the show. But with a smaller organization you might find yourself drinking beers and exchanging views with the director and entire cast.

So, yes, the artistic director should be encouraged to call donors – and she or he should be provided with a lovely, informal and friendly script to help get that conversation going.

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4 Comments

  1. Casandra says:

    People don’t pick up the phone anymore! Making a call instead of sending an email really stands out.

    Smaller organizations with smaller audiences and smaller donations especially have an opportunity to stand out. Particularly when younger people are making donations. By personal reaching out and building a relationship with donors, there is an opportunity to establish a loyal long-term commitment from them – simply because someone took notice!

    • Jini Stolk says:

      Thanks Casandra – I agree, but I guess we should heed Ruth’s warning as well: not too many calls, and never at dinner time! Perhaps new donors should be greeted and thanked by phone, and extraordinary gifts should be acknowledged the same way. A personal note from an AD by email or on a thank you card is also wonderful.

  2. Ruth says:

    I for one would just as soon not receive a thank you by phone. It usually interrupts dinner. Mail (e or snail) is just fine.

    Also I question how effective it is. My experience is that any amount given shrinks according to the number of times the donor is called.

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