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By Rachel Muir
As you probably know, most nonprofits bring in the majority of their revenue at the end of the year. This is a time when many organizations are raising as much as 30% to even 50% of their total budget.
To make the most of this end-of-year giving season, I recommend taking the time to do a simple and inexpensive task that will inspire donors to be even more generous: calling them.
Here’s a scenario showing how calling a donor can inspire them to make an end-of-year gift.
Imagine getting a thoughtful letter or card around Thanksgiving from one of your favorite nonprofits. They tell you that they’re thinking about everything that they have to be grateful for, and you’re on the top of their mind. They mention how your gift helped a person or solved a problem. You feel fantastic.
Later, you get their end-of-year appeal in the mail or in your inbox. You mean to make a gift, but you get distracted and put it off until later. Unfortunately, with so much going on during the holiday season, you don’t remember to make that donation.
But wait—a couple of days later, your phone rings. The nonprofit’s development director is calling to thank you for being a donor and asks how you are. You tell them how happy you are to hear from them because you’d be meaning to make a gift and this was the perfect reminder.
In that scenario, the development director didn’t even have to ask for the gift! The nonprofit’s stewardship plan and timely appeal did the work for them. That’s the beauty and opportunity in calling donors for end-of-year gifts.
Stewarding donors and calling to ask for end-of-year gifts
Warm them up first.
Before calling a donor, send them a letter, card, or email telling them how their last gift made a difference.
Then, around the beginning of the end-of-year giving season, steward them with a card, phone call, email, or video to thank them. You can even send a text with a cute thank you photo to tell them how much you appreciate them.
Here are example phone scripts a staff member can use to ask for a gift:
Introduction or small talk:
“Hi, [name of person you’re calling]. It’s [your name], the [your title] at [your nonprofit]. I’m calling to thank you for [an example of how their donation helped your nonprofit carry out its mission]. Thank you for being a donor, [their name]! We’re so thankful you’re part of our nonprofit family. How are you doing today?”
“[Their name], the reason I’m calling today is to ask you if you would join me this year in helping us [what your nonprofit is hoping to achieve with your end-of-year giving campaign].
If you sent them an appeal, you can mention that here: “Hopefully you got our letter from our executive director, [the ED’s name], last week about this campaign.”
Many donors are making a year-end gift of [a donation amount]. Can we count on you for a [donation amount] gift today?”
Be prepared to process their gift on the phone or, if they request it, send another appeal.
“We’re so grateful for your continued support, [their name]. It’s so great that you’re doing this. Thanks to you, [the impact their gift will make].”
Here are example phone scripts a board member can use to ask for a gift:
Introduction or small talk:
“Hi, [their name]. I’m [your name], and I’m a board member of [your nonprofit]. First off, I want to thank you. Your generous support has [impact they’ve had]. It’s because of you that [another impact they’ve had]. We’re so grateful to you.
Reflect on their kindness:
“[Their name] , we are so thankful for your compassionate heart for [your cause].
“[Their name], the reason I’m calling today is to ask for your help [accomplishing your campaign’s goal]. It’s the fastest way to [example of how the goal will serve your mission]. Many of our friends are helping us out today with a monthly contribution of [donation amount]. By becoming a monthly donor, you’ll be [example of what you’ll be able to do with their donation]. Can we count on you to help with a [donation amount] monthly gift?”
“We’re so grateful for your continued support, [their name]. It’s so great that you’re doing this. Thanks to you, [insert impact their gift will have].”
If you don’t get the person on the phone, leave a message with your callback number and send a follow-up email inviting them to give.
Remember: Not every gift you receive will be earned on the spot. Some will result from follow-up efforts. Always prepared with your next step, whether it’s sending an appeal, asking for a face-to-face visit, sharing a testimonial from a client you’ve helped, or inviting them to an event or tour.
Need more than example phone scripts? Download my free guide to “Get the Visit, Nail the Ask.”
Need some help making the ask or building a major gift program? Join my monthly live fundraising training.Return to Insights & Events