#ENCW Question 4: Thank Your Way To Growing Income
Dear Christian Radio,
If you have been following our series, #ENCW: The Next Steps then you and your organization should already be moving toward dreaming again, having hard conversations and inspiring your team. Now, we move on to our next question (Question #4) the addresses the ever-present topic of fundraising.
Q4: What is one step your station can take to grow income?
Answer: Making sure your donors are properly thanked and ensuring they know that their giving has made a difference!
One of my favorite clients gave me this little axiom that has become part of my everyday work with Christian radio stations and ministries across the country, “An attitude of gratitude produces altitude.” I’ve never forgotten it because it’s so true! Gratitude is POWERFUL STUFF. God rewards the thankful. He loves generosity and cheerful giving. He will reward your station if you make expressing gratitude the centerpiece of your donor relations efforts.
Fact: A lack of properly thanking donors is why Christian fundraising often ends up broken down on the road of good intentions. Let me explain…
On-air fundraisers are necessary and good—not just because of the income—but because these fundraisers help us acquire new donors from our pool of listeners. Rescue missions, schools, and other ministries would just LOVE to have the same opportunity your station has when you open the mics and invite people to give. Unfortunately, for them, they have to spend thousands of dollars to acquire just a few donors every year.
On-air fundraisers are like treadmills. The work involved leading into and out of a fundraiser can make you think that’s all there is to your fundraising program. My friends at i5810 Media and Share Media, both experts at on-air fundraising, will tell you that fundraising is really a 12-month process. Your on-air fundraiser is only the harvest…it’s what you sow the rest of the year that will determine how good that harvest will be. That’s why gratitude is so important.
Gratitude matters. Most stations still send tired, boring, mass produced receipts to donors; but that doesn’t meet the real need. Donors want to feel the love; they want to know they are personally connected in some way. A warm, personal card or letter or a phone call now and then—not telemarketing—can really go a long way!
Another form of expressing gratitude is reporting results. According to Penelope Burke’s study of hundreds of thousands of donors over the past five years, the #1 reason why donors stop giving to their favorite charities is because, “They never told me what they did with the money.” As Christian non-profits, we need to report how God has used a donor’s gifts to change lives, reach more people, or serve the community and do it in a personal way. Your donors will be so encouraged, they’ll keep on giving and you’ll then be able to focus on adding new donors during fundraising season.
When Advocace begins a new client relationship with a Christian radio station, invariably we find the gift acknowledgment, or thank you process, to be lacking. What’s more, the reporting process is often almost non-existent. Many stations aren’t even tracking important information like how many people heard the Gospel at station events over the past year or quantifying community service work (shoes, coats, pounds of food, etc.). Others have no process for collecting and properly archiving the stories of how God is changing lives through the station.
One more important tip: When thanking and reporting, it’s important to get yourself out of the way. Don’t say, “Your gift helped us to…” Instead, connect the donor directly with the results, as in, “Your gift changed Sally’s life! Let me tell you how…”
Dear Christian Radio, “Thank you” is the place to start with your donors.
- Make a list of donors who have given $100 or more at any one time -or- $1,200 in any 12-month period over the past three years.
- Create simple talking points—not a script…this isn’t telemarketing—and train your team to call donors to just say ‘Thank you’ and to ask for prayer requests. Start with the newest donors, first; then, work backward to complete your three-year list.
- For the largest, most recent donors, write handwritten thank you notes.
- On an on-going basis, decide how your donors will be thanked for their giving. Every donor should get a receipt sent two to three (2-3) days after their gift arrives. Getting receipts out the door within 24 hours is a good goal, but a better receipt sent later is just as good. Finally, donors giving at higher levels should get a personal touch such as a card, phone call, or small gift, every now and then.
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