Although snail mail is no longer as prevalent as it was when I was younger, I can still remember the confusion and sometimes frustration I felt when opening the mailbox to find a letter marked, “Return to Sender.”
My message was never delivered! Whether it was birthday wishes or prayers for a speedy recovery, payment for an electric bill or documentation needed for my kids’ school, I suddenly had to uncheck a “done” item on my list.
Luckily, in most cases, the solution was a simple fix of a digit or two in the recipient’s zip code or perhaps an added stamp due to a package’s weight.
Whatever the explanation, the point is that just because you have delivered something does NOT mean that it’s been received. There may be additional steps you need to take to get your message in the hands of the person it is meant for.
When it comes to your year-end letter recipients, I want to challenge you to apply this same outlook.
You’ve likely delivered the mission and needs to persons who have yet to respond. Perhaps your ask has yet to be received.
You have the power, with God’s leading and guidance, to change that! Let’s look at how.
Asking is a Verb
What is it you want people to consider doing?
Reach out and let past and potential donors know you’re going to send them information on how they can make a difference before we close out the calendar year. Craft and send a personalized appeal that is specific. Advise them you’re dropping a letter in the mail about giving over the past few months and developments in your ministry of which you want them to be aware.
But keep going.
Let them know you’re going to follow-up. And then… actually follow-up. Check in by touching the giver once more. Give them something specific to pray about and consider.
Focus Rather Than Fixate
It’s easy to make a list of dates when you’ve asked for donations and to print lists of names you’ve already reached.
That’s not what’s important. Needed – yes. Useful – yes. Keep tracking – yes. Crucial – no.
The important thing is focusing on those who have not given this year – not when you asked.
If someone hasn’t yet given this year, the goal is that they would give before year end. Don’t worry about the future, when your capital campaign pushes out, upcoming sponsorships, or spend time forecasting next year’s giving. You will have a much more difficult future if they aren’t giving this year.
Future givers are born in the present.
Lend Your Ask to the Recipient
Let’s face it. It’s a busy time of the year.
Put yourself in the shoes of the giver, where they are at this point in the year. They have a lot going on; they’re busy.
If they haven’t given away all of their money they are giving this year, they have a vague sense they need to make giving decisions before the 31st. They know they need to sit down and figure out if they are going to be able to give more, if they are giving less, or what they have left to give.
Action not Amount is What Counts
You can ask for a specific amount, a general gift, a gift before-year-end, or talk about a specific project.
The point is you want something in front of them on which you can follow-up.
It all comes back to giving them something specific to pray and think about before the end of the year.
Intentional asking is like dominos. One move will be the catalyst for everything that follows.
In a perfect world, you’re giving a heads up to personalize the letter that’s to come. Then, you are following up and saying, “I just want to give you something specific to think and pray about.”
Delivery not Decision
It’s important to remember – you’re not looking for an answer when you ask. You’re giving people something to think about when they sit down to make decisions.
Left alone and not hearing from you, donors, even if it’s the last 48 hours of the year, will go into default giving mode. “Well, I give everyone this amount,” or, “I will give everybody a little bit more,” or, “This group asked me for this and I need to make a decision.”
You want to be the group that gave them something to think about, the group that makes them reflect.
These are just a few things to consider as we close out the year. Remember, when you want significance in someone’s giving potential, you want to be the one giving input from the starting point. Donors, especially when it goes beyond a certain point, are becoming investors. It’s very rare in today’s culture for someone to invest significantly without emotional strings attached, and this can be to your advantage!
Best of luck implementing these tips with your teams. I believe in you and so does He. I look forward to hearing how it changes your year-end for a brighter New Year!
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