FORE! What Fundraisers Can Learn From Golfers to Improve their Year-End Appeal

News | September 8, 2016

by Natalie Zundel, CFRE, Director of Development, ASCRS Foundation

What does the sport of golf and the profession of fundraising have in common? Great follow through can make or break you!

Golfers will practice endlessly to perfect their swing, including the approach and follow through, in the hopes of hitting farther and more consistently.

So, my fellow fundraisers, while you are in the midst of year-end appeal planning, don’t just focus on the first part of your swing (the ask) but put as much, if not more, time into the follow through (stewardship). Yes, it is important to cultivate and craft the right ask for each donor to secure that all important year end gift, but you should also be planning on how you will talk to the donor once they make a gift. Even more, you should have a strategy to communicate how their gift made an impact.

Why? Because it is more cost effective to keep an existing donor than recruit a new donor. And that means more donor dollars going to program costs than fundraising costs. A win for everyone.

I propose a second “why” for investing time and resources into your stewardship follow through, as part of your year-end appeal planning. It is the right thing to do. If you were a donor, wouldn’t you want to hear from the organization you made a gift to before they asked for support again next year? Wouldn’t you want to know what their programs accomplished during the year? Wouldn’t that make you more likely to give again – more so than another appeal letter?

I am guessing your answer is “yes”.

So, here are 5 great follow through examples I personally love:

  1. New Donor Welcome Packet – complete with your latest Annual Report financials, program details, and photos.
  2. A thank you call from staff, board, or volunteers by March.
  3. An old fashioned Annual Report – snail mail a nice printed version to your top donors with a handwritten note, email your entry level donors!
  4. A postcard (printing and postage are cheap) with fun photos from the programs supported and a brief thank you message during the summer.
  5. A personal email during National Thank You Month.


Join Mail List

Join our mailing list and sign up for AFG reminders!