Plan B

Plan B


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


My Plan B this year starts on November 13th.


Years ago now, I organized a hand-written letter party for the Board. We had seventy-something prospects who had given $250 or more last year and we were launching a $1,000 giving club. These prospects had been taken out of the regular renewal cycle. The core strategy was to ask them to join using a hand-written letter.

The strategy worked beautifully, and everyone was pleased. Nearly half had responded positively, and even some who didn’t give $1,000, gave more than they might’ve otherwise.

I didn’t even notice the problem until nearly a year later when I looked at the dismal renewal rate for the $250 group. Many of those who did not respond with $1,000, simply did not respond at all.

I should have had a Plan B.


I’ve made the case in several recent posts (here, for example, and here) that just about everyone you know will be solicited for an end-of-the-year gift between now and Christmas. The best prospects you have should be solicited in person. Setting and keeping those appointments will be a big job over the course of the next few weeks and months.

But inevitably, you won’t be able to get or keep meetings with everyone on your list. Some you’ll just miss. Others will have other priorities – usually meaning well, but somehow never getting back to you. And some will dodge you intentionally. Don’t let them simply fall through the cracks!

You’re going to need a Plan B.


Plan A for me might begin with an email and a phone call. It’s been a while. Lots has happened, made possible – in part – by you. Let’s get together. You won’t be surprised to learn that this first call gets answered by a lot of machines. I leave my name, organization and position, cell phone number, and request for a return call.

Then I call again, on a different day at a different time of the day. This time, if I get a machine, I leave a longer message. I’d like to get together to catch you up on some current opportunities, introduce you to our new (Chair, ED, or some such), or share our draft Strategic Plan with you. Again, the request for a return call.

I might try 3-4 times over a three-week span. On different days and at different times of the day. At least once in the evening. Always courteous, always leaving my cell number.

But I’m still going to need a Plan B.


Plan B is a letter – personalized – explaining that I have been trying to get in touch. I appreciate they are busy, but I also know they care. THANK YOU for your past gifts that have helped make this work possible. Please renew.

I offer to engage them further – I’d love to show you the project sometime, or I hope to see you at the Gala.

Plan B is an email or another phone call – that follows the letter. I just sent you a letter asking for your renewal this year. Please call me if you have any questions. Include your cell phone number.

Plan B is a second letter – about a month later. This one is closer to a standard renewal letter asking for $250 (or at least what they gave last year).


Plan B is NOT a last-minute scramble between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan B is NOT a sinking feeling next August that many of your top prospects fell through the cracks last year.


My Plan B this year starts on November 13th. I will still be looking to meet my top prospects in person in December, but I will also be dropping these first Plan B letters in the mail on that date. After the election, and a week before Thanksgiving. And they will be ready to go because I will have created them – at least the base letters – back in August.


What’s your Plan B this year?


Cheers, and have a great week.




Photo by Steven Diaz courtesy of


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  • Joe Engel
    Posted at 11:24h, 28 August

    Well said, David, and much appreciated.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 15:45h, 28 August


      Thanks for your comment on the blog this morning. Your comments mean a lot to me.