You clear your post office box, and among the mail is a letter and cheque from a long standing donor, someone who has supported your work for a number of years; someone you see as a friend. The letter is a shock.

Your donor has just told you that this will be their last gift, that they have decided that they need to cut back as they are supporting other organisations and can’t support everyone.

What do you do?

File the letter and bank the cheque, make a note on your system that the donor won’t be supporting any more; then carry on with your daily work.

If this is what you are doing, you could be missing out on maintaining the relationship you have with this donor.

The first thing you should do is take a breath, then pick up the phone and call the donor.

Why? You’re losing a friend, and you should be calling to say thank you for the support they have given over their time with your organisation.

When calling ensure you’re not making the call as a plea for them to stay on as a supporter, your reason for the call is to thank them, and nothing more.

You may end the call with a big surprise; in some cases the donor makes the decision to stay with you. It won’t always happen and most often won’t happen if you go into the call begging them to stay.

The call should be about how valuable their support has been, what it has meant to have them as a supporter and what they have helped you achieve. Any decision for them to stay is theirs and theirs alone.

I’ve made a number of these calls and know how well they have gone down with the donor, you could almost hear them smile knowing they you have valued their support. And, yes, some donors have changed their mind and stayed with the organisation.

So, the next time you get a letter saying that this will be the last donation, take a breath and pick up the phone and thank the person for their support. You have nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Do you make these types of calls already, how do you handle them, do you find some donors stay?

3 thoughts on “Losing a Friend

  1. Great post Graeme. Donors do have to make hard decisions and we need to accept this fact. If you sulk then that is the end of the relationship but if we take your advice, who knows what could happen in the future. Even if they don’t donate again, they may recommend you to someone else or support you in some other way – and we all need supporters.

  2. Great post. I strongly believe when a donor makes a hard decision, it is extremely important to thank for the support received all the time. Nothing is greater than gratitude.

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