The Truth About Milking Cows

I don’t know much about milking cows, but I do know this: You can’t milk a cow by sending it a letter.

If this seems preposterously elementary and painfully obvious, you’re right! But to how many prospective donors have you invited philanthropic support by letter (or email) only?

The annual fund is reliant upon direct mail as a core strategy for inviting gifts. And this is certainly the time of year where most institutions are sending mass appeals via direct mail to invite philanthropic support of their missions. It is an important and necessary part of a comprehensive annual giving program.

But among all these direct mail invitations, who are the donors you should consider personally reaching out to via phone, Zoom, or an in-person meeting (if that is possible)?

Here are some you might consider connecting with personally:

  • Donors assigned to a “relationship manager” (should be the default for personal outreach)
  • Donors with a giving history of $500+ annually
  • Prospective donors with the capacity to give $1,000+ annually
  • Loyal and consistent annual donors (however you define it; 5-10 years or more of giving, as an example)
  • New donors from last year (who stand a greater chance of not renewing their support)

I’m sure there are other categories of donors/prospects you could choose from. But I also know you don’t have unlimited time and resources.

So with just days remaining before your holiday break, make a list, check it twice, pick up the phone and be your institution’s representation of nice.

(Cheesy finish, I know! But I think you get the point.)


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