Not getting a response to call can be one of the greatest frustrations for any major gift officer.

  • Did the donor get your message?
  • Are they purposely ignoring you?
  • Are they busy?
  • Did you offend them?
  • When should you try again?

The list can go on and on while you wait for the reply that likely isn’t coming.

I recently learned a trick to boosting your response rate from my friend and colleague, Shawn Saunders (VP at DB&A).  When a response is critical, Shawn counsels his clients to “Cluster Contact” donors.  In contrast to calling your donor, leaving a message, waiting a week, leaving another message, waiting a week, leaving yet another message…, Cluster Contacting involves reaching out via multiple channels within one or two days.

Here is how it works:

You start by calling your donor.  In your message, mention that since the donor’s response is important, you are also going to send an email or a message via a social media platform.  Reaching out via LinkedIn or Facebook can be more effective than email because there is a reduced chance of having a gatekeeper.  Moreover, social media platforms like LinkedIn keep “nudging” your donor that there is an unread message.  Be sure to reference your voice message in your email or social media message.  For example, “as I promised in my voice mail message, I am emailing you to share an important update.  Can you please call me at your next convenience?” You can even go a step further by sending a text message the day after reinforcing the prior to contacts.

I have begun trying this method with my clients and found solid results.  I think the Cluster Contact approach works for three reasons:

  1. Using multiple channels reduces the likelihood of the message getting lost in the noise of daily life.
  2. It peaks the donor’s interest. If you are that persistent, then you must have something important (and you should).
  3. They respect your initiative.

I encourage you to strategically Cluster Contact your donors as well.  In an increasingly busy and noisy world, it can make the difference between “Hello!” and silence.

Getting the silent treatment?  From case development to cultivation tactics, DB&A’s Major Gift Solutions services can help you break through.  Most clients experience a 20% increase in major donor revenue in their first year.   Contact us today.