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Donor communication – informal, planned, formal, unplanned – it’s all important. Just ask the Salvation Army

By May 8, 2015May 12th, 2015All Posts, Commentary, Donor Cultivation

I don’t know about you, but I am the kind of fundraiser who likes to leave no stone unturned when it comes to communication, a trait I surely acquired from my father. As long as you are not becoming a distraction, I think staying in touch with your donors is vitally important. Occasionally there can even be an unforeseen, unplanned benefit result for your organization.

That was certainly the case recently for one of my favorite clients, The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command. I’m helping them in building a development department literally from scratch. They are also in the very beginning stages of a capital campaign and are in the process of getting out to meet many of their best donors as well as those area foundations they feel will make a sizable commitment to their capital campaign.

The Area Commander and the Campaign Director made an appointment to see the head of one of Oklahoma’s more substantial foundations, one which had contributed to the Army previously and one they hoped would eventually make a significant commitment to this latest capital campaign. Not quite ready to submit a proposal, their intent was simply to share with the foundation exec what the campaign objective was, where the Army currently was with the campaign and to let him know that they would like to formally submit down the road…and they were encouraged to do so.

Before they departed, the exec inquired as to how things were going overall for the Army in Central Oklahoma. This provided the Area Commander, who was relatively new in his position and who had never met the exec before, to share his vision for Area Command. It wasn’t a lengthy conversation and after about 10 minutes the Area Commander and the Campaign Director departed, both feeling that they had accomplished their mission in behalf of the capital campaign as well as providing a brief vision/mission update.

Following my recent consult in Oklahoma City, I was driving up I-35 making my way back to Kansas City when my cell phone rang. It was the Area Commander. “Hello John….are you sitting down?” he inquired. An interesting question to ask a fellow driving in his car….”no, Major I’m lying down in my trunk taking a nap” is what I was tempted to say….but I didn’t. “Yes, sir I am….what’s going on?” I inquired.

He proceeded to share with me that in the days afternoon mail was a letter from the aforementioned foundation exec in which he thanked the Area Commander for taking the time to see him and for providing a most informative presentation. Enclosed with the letter was a check for $100,000 which was given in an unrestricted manner. “I’m sure you will be able to put this check to good use based upon all that we discussed” he wrote. The check was identified as not being for the capital campaign.

Just goes to show you that if you will take the time and prepare properly, all manner of great things can happen for you and your organization…..just ask The Salvation Army.

Originally posted October 25, 2010.

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