December is for Saying “Thank You”

December is for Saying “Thank You”

The more I work with land trusts, the more I work with non-profit organizations for that matter, the more themes emerge that seem common to nearly all of them. One of them that seems universal is that Board members are not as engaged as they should be in fundraising.

Are you as engaged in fundraising as you should be? If not, December is a great month to change that – by saying thank you.

It’s easy:

  1. Look over a list of members in your area and identify at least ten members that you would be willing to call (as in – on the telephone). Make a note of their names, phone numbers, and email too if it is available.
  2. Ask the appropriate staff person, or the volunteer who is in charge of thank you letters to link your name to the member in the database. (In more sophisticated databases, use the “lead” or “primary contact” designation on the donor record. For access databases, or spreadsheets, simply add a new data item or column for the primary contact’s name.)
  3. As donors make year-end gifts, ask that a copy of the thank you letter be sent to you (by email if possible). Then make the call(s).
  4. When you call, you are calling to say Thank You, and if that is all you accomplish, that’s plenty for now. Most of the time, you will be leaving messages. However, make sure the conversation or the message contains the following minimal elements:
  • That you are a Board member; be sure to name the organization.
  • One quick example of how the organization and its members made a difference with the clear association that individual giving made this success possible.
  • And that you look forward to meeting them or seeing them in 2014, for example at a specific event or outing of some sort. Name a specific event and date if possible.
  1. If you do get them on the phone, ask how long they’ve been members, what first drew their attention to the organization, and what they like most about what the organization does.
  2. Capture what you learn in bullet-form notes and make sure it gets sent to the office and into the files.

Between December and January, making ten such calls should not be a burden, but if it still seems intimidating, consider making it a board exercise at a board meeting. During the meeting, take a 20-minute break and ask each board member to place two or three such calls using their cell phones. With everyone doing it at the same time, it’s easier to hold yourself and each other accountable.

Making calls to donors and members carries the twin benefits of increasing their connection to the organization and increasing your own. You’ve heard the saying the she who chops her own wood is twice warmed. The same is true for Thank You calls!

Happy Holidays!


Photo Credit: Walt Kaesler

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1 Comment
  • Lynn Broaddus
    Posted at 18:14h, 18 December

    David – this is great advice, and I’m planning to share it with River Network’s board. I’ve been on boards (coached by you!) where we did the calls during a board break and it was very empowering. Thanks for sharing!