I was speaking my colleague, Mary, a few weeks ago, lamenting the reluctance of board members to reach out and engage with donors. And then Mary nailed it – FOMD! Fear Of Meeting Donors. It is hard to understand why accomplished, well-spoken, very likeable people have this fear. But I am afraid it is true.
People, who usually have no problems making business calls, social calls, or calls to any person they don’t know, need to have a script to call a donor, or an extensive training in how to meet with a donor in person. Simply to say “thank you.” These very same people are usually very open about doing these things when it is first suggested. Then – it happens: FOMD. So, I would like to explore why this happens and how we can help each other overcome FOMD.
FOMD is not about meeting or talking to someone you don’t know. I believe it actually comes from a deep respect for the donor and an uncertainty relative to how to approach someone who has done something so nice as to give to your organization. There is also the fear of not knowing what the answer is to a donor’s question, and that can be a tad bit intimidating.
Here are a few tips for helping board members or any staff or volunteer making those calls:
- Prepare a simple script. However, don’t load the script with facts. Rather share some nice information, such as, “This is a woman who is in her 70’s and has been giving for 12 years. She has come to a few of our events with other friends. Her giving has increased from $50 to a high of $400 in 2020. You are calling to thank her for giving $350 one week ago.” A board, volunteer, or staff can prepare this.
- Provide a few facts or story of interest to share with the donor about your organization, such as the programs you have restarted after COVID, how things are going, or a funny anecdote. Your Executive Director, staff, or even your Development Committee could do this.
- Share why this organization matters to you, when you made your first gift or why you joined the board.
- If they ask a question you don’t know, simply say, “that’s a great question and I don’t have the answer, but I will find out and get back to you if that is ok?” (what a great way to reconnect with the donor, by the way)
- Let the caller know you don’t want to keep them long – just long enough to say thank you and how much the donor is appreciated.
- Enjoy the call. Donors are really nice people and fun to talk to.
I think the bottomline is that people just need encouragement to make that first call. With year-end giving appeals and strategies underway, it is important to overcome FOMD. The most important aspect of fundraising is communicating how much you appreciate a donor’s gift and how that gift is being used. The thank you letter that also serves as the donor’s tax receipt is not enough. A call or a meeting is so much more effective. Of course you can send an e-mail or a text. But think about making that call.
If you are a board member, volunteer, or staff, and are anxious about calling donors – here is one piece of advice: Just Do It. It may just be the most enjoyable few minutes of your week!