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Resources – Articles

National Philanthropy Day – Recognize Major Donors 
By Karen Zapp

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ZAPP Nonprofit Leader

November 15, 2008 is National Philanthropy Day - a day to recognize the countless individuals and organizations that give so much year after year to help make our world a better place to live.

These tactics will be a profitable addition to your overall donor cultivation strategy.

I'll be surprised if your nonprofit organization doesn’t already have an event or recognition campaign planned on or near November 15th.  Here are a couple general ideas just in case:  

Major Donors (individual and corporate) 
This "holiday" gives you a perfect reason to call your major donors.  I mean a personal phone call from a board member, executive director, development director, or someone else in a very significant leadership position within your organization.
Simply call each major donor and share something very simple and brief.  For example:    
Good morning Mr. Johnson [and if you're on a first name basis then by all means, use the first name].  This is [identify caller] from [name of organization].
Today is National Philanthropy Day so I wanted to call and thank you for all your support over the past year.  All of us here at [name of organization] value your generous support tremendously.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I have one question for you, if I may.  Is there anything you'd like us to do differently?  In other words, are you receiving all the information about us that you want, when you want it, and in the form you want it?  Anything at all you'd prefer to have done a bit differently?

After you ask this question, sit and wait.  Don't say anything.  Relax and give your major donor a chance to think and to take their time answering.     
How they answer the question may naturally result in a bit more conversation.  Just don't drag out the call.  And remember, you're chatting with a very dear friend
Depending upon how many you have, it may not be practical for someone in your organization to call and say "thank you for your service."  So perhaps a simple thank you card sent in the mail, or an email.
Non-Major Donors
Now is a great time to make use of those email addresses you've been collecting and adding to your database throughout the year. Send a very short note of thanks to as many “intermediate” and “regular” donors as possible. And please, do NOT include any kind of an “ask” for money; not even a “soft ask.”

In fact, if at all possible it would be ideal to segment the emails and send a more personalized and grateful email to your intermediate donors. Perhaps refer to a specific campaign or two they responded to. Give an update on the impact they have made through their donation. In other words, share a specific success they helped make possible. These are - as you well know - another very valuable segment of your file.
Important: Take time to remove your major donors from this email campaign.  You've communicated with them by phone - and major donors deserve a bit of red carpet personal treatment - so don't send them a mass mailing.
And just as you did with your major donors by phone, you can also ask your intermediate and regular donors if there's anything different they'd like to see from you. 
Schedule these tactics into your calendar as part of your donor cultivation strategy. I believe you'll reap wonderful rewards when you do.

My recommendation is to take advantage of National Philanthropy Day. Recognize those people who keep your nonprofit organization funded and operational throughout the year.  Again, a very brief communication with the sole purpose of sharing your heartfelt thanks, and to find out if you’re on target with all your other communications.

I would be honored to help you and your nonprofit organization make the world a better place. Please give me a call or drop me a line and we'll explore the possibilities. After all . . . fundraising copywriting is my world.

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