#1 Year-End Fundraising Tip: Warm Up Your Donors Before The Ask


If you are starting to prepare for your annual fall fundraising campaign, it’s time to get busy!

Here’s a first step to a successful year-end fundraising campaign:

Warm up your donors first, before you do anything else. Simply start reconnecting with them.

Get the ball rolling on the fall fundraising season – easy – by making sure your donors feel happy and connected to you.

Thank them, and honor them for their support – well BEFORE you ask them for another gift.  This is good manners, anyway, isn’t it? :)

Always warm up your donors before you make another ask.

Here are our two favorite ways to create a wonderful “warm-up” to launch your fall fundraising campaign.

Take the time now, to appreciate your donors well before you send another solicitation.

Then they are much more likely to keep your organization on their short list of favored causes.

They will remember your cause happily when your appeal shows up next month – because you actually reached out and engaged with them.

It’s important to do this – BEFORE you ask them for another gift.

1. Try a Thankathon!

Get everybody on the phone and have a #DonorLove evening!

Remember, donors love to be thanked. And it’s our opinion that they are not thanked or acknowledged enough.

You don’t want that fall fundraising appeal message to hit your donors out of the blue. Instead, you want your donors to be prepared to hear from you.

If you can, try to keep in close communication with your lovely donors.   Reaching out now will remind them that they really do love your cause and that they are happy to be supporters.

Thank you phone calls keep donors on YOUR bandwagon – tuned in to your organization’s work, and thrilled about the support they are giving your cause.

What about people who don’t answer their phones?

Yes, you can always leave a message. The message does, in fact, “land” with your donor.

In addition, you may have donors who prefer texts. Go ahead and text them. Just think – wouldn’t it be nice to get a thank you text instead of a solicitation?

Finally, a personal thank you email also works. This type of donor engagement is just fine – because it’s . . . you guessed it . . . it’s personal!

Before you roll out any year-end campaign, get on the phone, and thank everybody you possibly can.

This is a great place to use your board members.

Studies show that when board members thank donors, the donors’ future gifts are larger.

And if your board members are nervous about getting involved in fundraising, you can warm them up to fundraising by having them start by thanking donors.

In addition to board members, you can get volunteers, other donors, staffers or even clients involved in a Thankathon.

Above all, be sure to make your Thankathon feel like it’s an enjoyable event.

Even more, you can feed your callers supper, and help them feel appreciated.

You can even turn your Thankathon into a little party. Who knows!

What to say to donors at a Thankathon:

Call donors and simply let them know you appreciate them.

Thank them for everything they have done to help the (children, students, elderly, poor, hungry, prisoners, sick etc).

Huge issue that many people miss: Don’t thank them for helping your organization be successful. Instead thank them for the impact THEY are making.

Tell them how their donations were used.

Remind them of their partnership in the cause and how important they are.

Ask them why THEY are giving. Why do they believe in your organization? Start a conversation!

This is such a lovely way to warm up your donors before you ask.

It’s a no brainer. It’s joyful for everyone. And it’s fun.

The second way we like to warm up our donors before the ask is an impact report.

2. Send an impact report.

You can send your donors a postcard, video, email or regular letter with just an update.

And tell them — show them — make them see and feel the impact their gifts are making.

Nothing brings donors more joy than to know this.

Remember Penelope Burk’s research: Donors will give again if they get three things:

  1. A prompt personal thank you.
  2. Meaningful information on how their gift was used.
  3. Assurance that their gift was spent as intended.

You can do #2 and #3 with an impact report.

A success story of warming up your donors:

Lana Baldwin of the wonderful Pima Council on Aging in Arizona launched her fall fundraising campaign this way:

   “We kicked off our year-end campaign in early November by sending our annual report to donors with a personalized letter thanking them for making a difference in the lives of older adults last year (our “warm-up” piece).

I attended your webinar series for the best year-end fundraising season ever and implemented a number of the lessons we learned. And, we HAVE had our best year-end ever! 

Thanks to your training and coaching, we exceeded last year’s (best year-end ever to date) totals by an amazing 50%! 

Bottom Line: Warm up your donors before you ask!

What are YOU doing to warm up your own donors? We’d love to know!

Email us at coaching@gailperry.com and let us know.