Pro tips | How to follow-up with a donor

publication date: Aug 1, 2019
author/source: Ann Rosenfield

You've talked to a donor, they have expressed interest. You may even have met. But they haven't gotten back to you. Maybe you are waiting for them to sign the gift agreement, maybe you are waiting for a return call. Here you are waiting. Here's how to keep the ball rolling.

Don't create situation in the first place

Talking to a donor on the phone? Trading texts? Meeting over coffee? Don't leave the conversation without a next step. You want to keep the conversation rolling.

Be multi-channel

My 24 year-old son literally doesn't see an envelope unless I wave it in front of his face. Maybe your middle-aged donor missed the email. Or maybe they don't ever answer their phone. If you try one approach and it doesn't work - try another channel. If you always call, send an email. If you always email, send a letter. Its about catching the donor's attention.

Track when and where

Track in your database when you contaced the person, time of day, day of week, and how. Maybe you only contacted them Wednesday at 11 am because that is when you always call donors. And maybe they always have an appointment at that time. By using different times of day, days of the week, you can ensure that you are not missing them due to a standing appointment on their end.

Don't leave a message

So you call on Monday and they are not there and you leave a message. Guess what? Now you can't call back for a week, or two. So if you get voicemail, just hang up and try again another day or time. This way you can follow-up more than once.


Once you do reach them, check in if they have been hard to reach. Don't be afraid to say "has your situation changed and you need me to stop following up?" Remember, a "no" is better than an endless set of follow-ups that never go anywhere.

Hang in there and keep trying. With donors it is more about patient persistence than it is about luck.

Ann Rosenfield is the Editor of Hilborn Charity eNews and a working frontline fundraiser. She recently (finally) got the signed gift agreement back from a donor after 2 months of follow-up.

Like this article?  Join our mailing list for more great information!

Copyright © 2011-Current, The Hilborn Group Ltd. All rights reserved.

Free Fundraising Newsletter
Join Our Mailing List
Vlog: Inspiring 2-minute stories

Think Canada