Longtime friend-of-the-list and former coachee, Reb Yitzchok Krausz, Executive Vice President of the Yeshiva of Greater Monsey, wrote in to ask a very insightful question, (shared with permission.)
Reb Yitzchak wanted to know:
“When calling donors to wish gut Yom Tov, what is the main point you should try to make in the conversation?
“How much should you be focused on gut Yom Tov vs. talking about the donor’s children/grandchildren or talking about your institution?
Do you look to respect their time and specifically keep it short and sweet, or do you look to take time to connect further?”
Excellent, excellent question. Let’s explore the answer.
First, let’s build some foundations.
When entering any donor communication, you should start by asking yourself: how will this interaction build my relationship with my donor?
I’ve discovered that there are eight main ways in which we connect with donors. Each of these ways develops a different aspect of our relationships with them.
To help you remember these 8 connection-methods, I’ve fit them into a handy acronym: “GIFT VIEW.”
- Guide - Be a guide and confidant to them
- Invite - invite them into your life - share your simchas and life events, and send them invitations
- Find - Find practical ways to better their lives - introduce a business connection, help with a shidduch, etc.
- Tov - Recognize the good - show hakaras hatov by focusing and highlighting the good their contribution brings to your organization
- Vision - Bring them into your vision; help them see the role they can play in it
- Interest - Show interest in them and their lives. Talk about what interests them - Torah, business, sports, their grandkids, etc.
- Eitzah - Ask them for advice in appropriate areas
- Wishes - Share good wishes at times of year, or times in their lives, that warrant them. Share in their simchas.
How do you decide which specific areas to focus on in each encounter? Try asking yourself these three questions:
- What’s the main point I want to make in this call?
- How do I want my donor to feel after this interaction?
- Which GIFT VIEW items will help me make my point, as well as inspire those feelings in them?
Now, if you call a donor before Yom Tov, you’re naturally prioritizing item #8 on the list - Wishes. Your primary objective is simply to get a ‘gut Yom Tov’ or ‘Shana Tova’ wish across.
So - wish them a gut Yom Tov.
Having accomplished that, try to feel out whether or not they have time for a longer schmooze. If, like Reb Yitzchok, you want to build closeness by talking about their children or grandchildren (see item #6, Interest), you could ask something like, “Do you have a minute to hear a sweet story about your grandson?”
If, after hearing the nachas report, they’re still interested in schmoozing, they may ask you about how things are going at your organization.
Which brings us to the last aspect of Reb Yitzchok’s question: should you keep things short and sweet, or should you spend time building connection?
Once again, you can make this decision simply by asking your donor a quick question: “How much time do we have?”
If they say, “I have some time now, I’d love to hear more about how your mosad is doing,” then you know you can take some time to elaborate. (Don’t focus only on your organization’s latest news, of course. Make sure what your sharing serves one of the 8 purposes mentioned above.)
If they say, “Hm, I have a minute or two,” do your best to make those few minutes meaningful and enjoyable. (If you do, chances are they’ll want to continue the conversation for longer.)
If they say, “I have a meeting in two minutes,” (or something similar,) keep it short and sweet, round it off with some nice donor-focused good wishes, and say goodbye.
One word of caution. We’re typically making these calls to many donors and have our ‘checklist’ of donor names to get through. So when you're on the call, make sure the pressure to get through this call, to the next one, does not come through in the conversation.
Hope this answered your question, Reb Yitzchok! Thank you for helping us all sharpen our fundraising skills this Yom Tov season.
Have a wonderful week empowering your donors' lives with your good wishes.