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Pick. Up. The. Freaking. Phone. And. Call. Them.

How many emails do you have in your inbox right now?


Don’t be shy – look at them.


Look at all of them.


Staring at you.


Mocking your inability to delete them, respond to them or file them away in a folder faster than more come in.


Sure, some of them are reminders to pay your Verizon bill, or alerting you to the Taylor Swift que that is about to open up for getting on the list to be put in consideration to get the option to maybe purchase floor seating at her Guatemalan Stadium concert in 2027.


But we can all probably agree that most of them have nothing to do with recruiting or retaining your donors, notifications of a massive sponsorship being digitally transferred to your nonprofit’s bank account, or finally confirming that meeting with the Fortune 500 business owner you’ve been periodically liking LinkedIn posts of for the past 18 months hoping they’d randomly send you a request for coffee.


I bet only a few are meaningful connections with those who love your organization’s mission just as much as you do.


And I would guess that even less are purposeful conversations about moving your community forward with unrestricted gifts of significance.


Though digital communication is critical and is an invaluable tool in your nonprofit’s ability to connect with your supporters, the art of making a personal connection has become increasingly rare.


As we navigate through the sea of emails and social media notifications, the warmth of human interaction fades into the background. However, for nonprofits looking to forge deeper connections and boost fundraising efforts in 2024, an old school method is making a powerful comeback: the humble phone call.


It’s weird. Those supercomputers in your pocket? The ones we use to send funny TikToks to our colleagues and significant others all day? Turns out, you can actually speak to another human through them. And it might just be the best strategy that can help nonprofits stand out and raise more funds.


Amidst the white noise of digital communications, a phone call emerges as a beacon of personal attention. It signals to donors that someone has taken the time to reach out personally, carving out a moment in their day to connect voice to voice. This level of personal engagement is invaluable, as it conveys a sense of importance and care to the donor, making them feel valued and appreciated in a way that an email or text message simply cannot replicate.


Why on earth would we call another human?


Well, the cornerstone of effective donor engagement is building genuine, interest-driven relationships. Phone calls offer a unique opportunity to move beyond transactional interactions and develop a deeper understanding of donors' motivations, interests, and lives. Engaging donors in conversations that explore their passions, their connection to your cause, and their vision for the impact they wish to create fosters a sense of partnership and belonging.


“But Patrick!” you might be shouting as you read this, “I’m not even sure what to say or do on the phone! Help!”


Be curious my friend. You’ll find the best and most meaningful conversations start with a simple question, that leads down a delightful rabbit hole and leads to an incredible moment of connection.


Need some ideas on what to ask? I got you. Try one of these:


"What inspired your first gift to our organization, and how has your view of our impact evolved since then?"


"Are there particular stories or aspects of our work that resonate with you more deeply?"


"How do you envision our organization's role in the community in the coming years?"


"If money was no option, what would you love to see our organization accomplish?”


Simple and small words strung together.


Complex and big insight from each answer.


And the best part? Their engagement with questions like this make for incredible donor retention.




The impact of personal phone calls on donor retention can’t be overstated. A conversation that recognizes their contributions, updates them on the impact of their gifts, or simply checks in to see how they are doing can rekindle their commitment to the cause. Each one of these interactions make donors feel seen and heard, significantly increasing their likelihood of continued support.


And conversations like this are a great way to give anecdotes to the success of your nonprofit.


These calls and connections are great ways to reengage donors who might be frustrated by a lack of communication in a medium they relate to.


Your biggest and best supporters will appreciate a phone call that focuses solely on understanding their motivations and experiences. Your genuine interest and active listening (which is exhausting – I know!) leads to renewed connection and a significant increase in their interest in what you’re accomplishing in the community.


Oh, and it will definitely lead to more money.


Donor who understand the impact of their gifts?


/chef’s kiss


Those are your rock star lifelong supporters.


And this is how you become different than every other organization who reaches out to donors and supporters.


We ask for opinions. We ask for feedback. We ask for their thoughts and hopes for our nonprofit. We talk about big ideas. We talk about life and what’s important to them.


And the responses from a real person in their real voice serves as an indicator, not only of the call’s success, but as a barometer of how that individual sees our organization and mission in the community.


The goal is to foster genuine connections. Which of course, leads to gifts and an increase in support.


As your nonprofit looks into 2024, embracing the phone call as a key strategy in nonprofit fundraising. It’s not “old school” thinking —it's an approach that recognizes the irreplaceable value of personal connection, and vastly different than what everyone else is doing.


By integrating this simple (yet oddly unique today?) action into our modern fundraising toolkit, we can build stronger relationships, enhance donor retention, and ultimately, raise more funds to advance our missions.


Bottom line? It's about making every donor feel like an integral part of the journey, one phone call at a time.


And isn’t that a more fun way to engage with your supporters than trying to come up with a snazzy or deliberately click-bait-y subject line and competing with Taylor Swift’s VIP Pre-Sale shenanigans?


You bet it is.


Pick up that phone and go get ‘em friends!




PS: Want more HOT tips on how to raise money….but don’t know how to make an ask!? You’re in luck! Because we’re hosting a FREE webinar on that exact topic on Tuesday, March 19th!




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