First things first. There are a bunch of reasons why they won’t reply. Perhaps they are private people. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll ask them for more money. Or, maybe they like to engage with your organization and its mission, but YOU are an entirely different story.
They have their reasons. But still, your job is to build relationships with supporters to ensure that their legacy intentions become realized (revenue). So what do you do?
Before we go any further, I have to remind you that this isn’t about you and it isn’t about your boss either. No! For #@%&!’s sake, it’s all about them— the donor.
Gain some empathy. Put yourself in their shoes. Recognize that, when they encounter your outreach, they’re going to ask themselves, “Why should I take this call or respond? What’s in it for me?”
Never forget that people want value, especially when they are dealing with strangers. In this case, if they don’t understand what value they’ll gain from an engagement with you, they won’t lean in to accept it.
Therefore, the only way to get them to engage is to provide value and make it easy for them to comprehend and appreciate.
In many cases, when a supporter notifies you that they left your organization in their estate plan, I think you should offer them a donor survey. It’s a fabulous ‘opaque’ offer that doesn’t scream, “I want to confirm your plan, document it (for my boss) and learn more about the details of your gift!….. like how much????…… And, oh by the way, how are you feeling???” 😉
At MarketSmart, we call this type of survey an intends survey since these folks said they intend to leave a gift). It’s an easy offer to create and distribute. In fact, if you want to examine one, I encourage you to get a demo with one of our Solutionists.
I know, your boss wants to document the gift. That’s great. But what does the donor want? That’s the question you need to ask yourself. Do they want to document the gift as much as you want them to? Probably not. That’s why you’ve got to give them a good reason to engage first.
Only then, once they’ve engaged, will you have a chance to build a relationship and finally document the gift.
A survey is safe for them. It provides an opportunity for them to engage in arms-length dialogue with your organization (not really with you… at least not yet!) at a time and place of their choosing. In it you could ask questions like:
A survey is a win-win. It gives them something (an opportunity to have dialogue, provide feedback, and feel good about themselves for supporting your cause). And, it gives you valuable information you can use later to enhance your follow-up communications making your calls, letters, and emails exponentially more personalized and relevant— for them.
Think about it. This wonderful human being just let you know that they plan to make the ultimate gift to support your cause. That’s amazing. It’s beautiful. It’s magical.
That’s why, unless you already know the supporter well, your outreach should embrace the fact that they might not trust you— yet.
Be empathetic to them. Provide value for them. Offer them an opportunity to engage in dialogue in a way that is appropriate at this stage of the relationship. Then, when they return the survey, use the answers they provide to give to them even more. Provide more value so they’ll engage again.
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