Skip to main content

Do One Thing That Scares You – Thank You Calls

By December 21, 2016November 28th, 2017Communication, Donor Engagement, Fundraising

You’ve heard the advice, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”


What if today your one thing is to pick up the phone to call a donor – simply thanking them for their support?

I can now hear the loud thunder of answers you are shouting at me as you read this:

NO! You can’t call people during the busy holiday season!

NO! I hate the phone.

NO! I hate getting unsolicited phone calls.

OR some other excuse to not make someone’s day.

Sorry gang, phone calls make a difference. Here’s why:
No More Excuses – You Need to Call Every Donor from Nonprofit Hub

The Incredible Power of the Phone from Sumac

Alright already, you say?

You’ll make a call or two in between doing last minute shopping online or checking your likes or follows on social media.

Once you move past the fear and your own personal barriers about making phone calls, then what?


  • Choose the supporters who have not yet given this year but have been regular donors in the past.
  • Choose people who made a financial contribution earlier this year.
  • Call your long-time, regular supporters.


You will most likely be leaving a voice mail message, so keep it brief.

Let your supporter know their gift (of time or money or both) mattered to a child, veteran, musician, scientist, someone in a wheelchair, or ?? Tell them just a little bit about that person (first name, age, and an inspiring quick sentence) and say THANK YOU on their behalf.

Wish them a terrific day because they’ve made someone else’s day terrific!

That’s it.


I dare you to do this and not receive some unexpected contributions.

If you REALLY want to do something that scares you, invite a contribution on your calls. Of any size.

Here is an excellent read from Julie Weston, Director of the Global Fundraising Hub at Save the Children. This is an internal email sent on December 15 that went viral inside their organization. Once you read Julie’s holiday wish, you’ll see why. She’s got this…and so have you!

Read Julie’s Holiday (Fundraising) Wish for inspiration.

To read the background about Julie’s wish check out the full post at on the topic of Open Source Fundraising.



  • Isaiah Allen says:

    I’m seven weeks into a Development role with a fairly small nonprofit. (“Small” meaning I have three distinct professional roles in the org, one of them being development.)I met with Lori on Dec. 13 and she challenged me to raise $10,000 apart from typical year end giving before January 1. I was intimidated by the challenge, but I thought I could possibly find 10 donors who would write $1000 checks. I left our meeting and got to work; I mined my contacts, made calls, and sent emails. A week later Lori sent an email to see how I was doing. This was my response:”I’m not overly optimistic. I had one meeting last night and have one lunch today. I have one donor who wanted a lunch in January, and a prospect who accepted an office visit request but on January 31. Interactions with two foundations have been positive, but did not result in donations. I’ve hit walls with two donors being unresponsive to multiple calls and emails. I have two more contacts on my list that I didn’t have much optimism about. My contact last night gave me about 4 more names that weren’t already on my call list. After I complete these contacts I’ll dig deeper into our donor database. Current donation total $900.”

    I sent that email too soon. A few minutes later I sent her this email: “I just got a lot more optimistic. One of my phone calls and emails I thought was being ignored landed for a $9,000 donation. So with $900 last night I only need $100 to make it to $10,000.”

    I went to the lunch I had arranged, I made the ask, and the donor wrote a $2,500 check.

    Pick up the phone. Send the emails. Make the ask.

  • Cathy says:

    Super, thank you for sharing,very encouraging!

Leave a Reply