Low Pressure vs. Passive Donor Communications

Low Pressure vs. Passive Donor Communications

As non-profit leaders, we all know the importance of good, ongoing communication with our supporters and friends. Communication of our message in a meaningful way is an essential part of the fundraising formula. It is important that we keep our vision out front. During this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, how and when we communicate to our donors is more than just important. It is critical.

Sensitivity & Scale

Most of the non-profit ministries we work with have scaled back their communication in some way. Since we are not doing face to face donor meetings, we have turned to other means – phone, mail, email, and even virtual meetings like Zoom or Go-to-Meeting. Some would ask, does this require that we also change the message? The urgency? The frequency? Most ministries have realized the need to be sensitive to donors during this time. Many have lost money or investments and are not as prepared to make gift decisions. Some have been directly impacted by COVID in their family. Others are fearful or worried about the future.

Care Over Solicitation

 At TTG, we have discussed the need to pivot from making direct “solicitation” calls to “care” calls or thank-you calls. Sharing what is going on at your ministry in a low-pressure manner is a good practice as we move through these uncertain times and look forward to a season of recovery. People need to know you are still there.

Low Pressure vs. Passivity

But we should not be passive in our approach. Being passive means that you do not take action, but instead let things happen to you. Passive activity involves watching, looking at or listening to things without taking action; being inactive. This is not how we want to communicate with our donors. Being low pressure in your approach does not mean you are being passive. It simply means you are adjusting your approach to the current situation. 

One of our school clients described how they are calling their regular donors and saying, “We are still here. God is faithful. Even though we are closed to students, we still have operational needs.” No direct ask was made, but they shared the need in a low pressure way. Many would respond, “How can we help?” This school saw increased giving over a year ago and met their annual fund goal in the midst of COVID-19. God is faithful.

Another client, a rescue mission, reported that as they increased their focus on thank you calls, they saw a parallel increase in the number of unsolicited donations to the ministry; this included some very large gifts that were unexpected. What if they would have been passive and didn’t reach out to these donors?

Donors who love your ministry will stay faithful if you communicate in a sensitive and loving manner. Being low pressure in your approach is fine. If they can’t give today, they will when they are more able.  

Recommended complimentary reading: “Ask For A Fish”. Order here.

Article submitted by Kent Vanderwood, Vice President for The Timothy Group. Kent currently resides as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.


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