Hello again! I hope the New Year continues to treat you well.
I’m excited to dive into email follow up tips in just a second. In fact, this may be the most important article in our Fearless 2018 series.
All week we’ve been focusing on email and how gift officers can use it to start and grow major donor relationships. Here are the previous installments:
- 3 Email Tactics Every Gift Officer Should Be Using
- Subject Lines for Gift Officers
- Cultivating Major Donors With Email
Along the way, I’ve given out several of my proven, word-for-word email templates. If you missed any of them, click on the links above, or check your inbox for emails from “Fearless Fundraising” sent earlier in the week.
(By the way, I’ve got another freebie for you today as well. Maybe two.)
And yesterday, many readers took advantage of a special opportunity to get even more templates.
I recently released my REVISED and EXPANDED collection of 45 Must-Have Email Templates for Gift Officers. These are my “go to” email scripts for getting meetings with VIPs, finessing tricky situations, making donors feel great, and so much more. CLICK HERE for details.
Why templates? They give you confidence and save you time.
Think of all the situations you face as a fundraiser. You’re always trying to capture busy people’s attention, inspire new prospects, and cajole frustrated donors. And sometimes you’re doing each of these multiple times in a single day!
Now, imagine walking into each situation with a great first email draft right at your fingertips.
You can. Here’s that link again: 45 Must-Have Email Templates for Gift Officers.
It’s all about the follow-up
Today, I want to talk about what to do if your email gets ignored. How do you follow-up effectively?
And how much follow up do you need to do?
Remember, as a gift officer, you deal with a lot of busy people. We’ve already covered some material that will make it far more likely your emails get a response. But, nobody bats 1000. Very often, you’ll need to be persistent and reach out that second, third, or fourth time.
So, what does that look like?
As a new gift officer, I put myself through a lot of anguish when it came to following up. I would totally psych myself out:
Well, maybe he just missed my note.
Or, he got it and he’s just ignoring me.
Yes, it’s probably that. He couldn’t care less.
In fact, if I were to try again, he’d probably get pissed off.
This is ridiculous – obviously. But I’m sure you’ve had thoughts like this at one time or another. These are the “invisible scripts” that can keep us from taking action if we’re not careful.
Which brings me to my first point about effective follow-up, via email or otherwise:
1. Assume the best
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Especially busy people.
If you do as I did, and immediately jump to this person clearly hates me, you’re going to have a rough time. And you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities by not following-up.
Train yourself to assume your donor or prospect just missed your note. Maybe they were out of town. Maybe you caught them in the middle of a busy season. It doesn’t matter. There are a million reasons they didn’t write you back. Most of them have nothing to do with you.
Point two is related:
2. Don’t be guilt-trippy
This too applies to all follow-up, whether it’s by phone, email, or otherwise. You may be feeling put out that your prospect didn’t write you back, but don’t try to make him feel guilty about it. Guilt is not a good basis for a relationship. We tend to avoid people and things that make us feel guilty or in any way bad about ourselves.
3. Don’t be afraid
I sent some pretty lame follow-up emails in my early years as a fundraiser. That is, when I didn’t talk myself out of following-up altogether.
I was so worried about inconveniencing or burdening my prospects that my emails were full of fear-based, overly-apologetic language:
Hello Mrs. Jones,
Sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if, perhaps, you could spare just a few minutes for a phone call later this week. It would be a privilege to update you just very briefly…etc…
Yuck. Why would Mrs. Jones ever want to make time for that call?
Energy and enthusiasm are contagious. We believe in people who believe in themselves. My note above didn’t communicate any of those things.
So, instead of walking on eggshells around your donors and prospects…
4. Be polite, persistent, and enthusiastic
You can be respectful and polite without apologizing. You can be professional and enthusiastic at the same time. Let these principles shape the tone you use in your writing.
And if you want to succeed, you must be persistent. Polite and persistent are not mutually exclusive.
5. Send your follow-up note on top of your original message
This one’s more tactical. If I’m following up via email, I like to send my follow-up note as a reply to my original message.
If you’ve already emailed once, your follow-up email can be a quick reminder. Brief notes are more likely to be read in their entirety. If your prospect needs the details again, she can simply scroll down to see your original email.
This approach also allows you to use “RE:” at the beginning of the subject line, suggesting momentum and a conversation in progress.
So how many emails should you send?
Email is a powerful tool, but sometimes email alone isn’t enough to get the attention of your prospects—especially your busiest, most important ones.
In fact, I think email is most effective as part of a multi-pronged outreach strategy that includes both email messages and phone calls.
So how often should you reach out?
Six times within two weeks.
What do you think? Too much? Too little?
I’ve tested this extensively and found six attempts (between email and phone) in two weeks to be the optimal balance between likelihood to generate a response and angering your prospects by over-doing it.
This is what it takes!
Frankly, I’ve worked with too many gift officers who give up too soon. Stay persistent!
Be polite, yes. Focus on relevance, yes. But don’t ruin your chances by giving up too soon.
If you’d like more detail on how many emails to send and when, check out my collection of 45 Must-Have Email Templates for Gift Officers. It contains over 20 pages of bonus material, including a detailed description of my Standard Outreach Sequence—the series of emails and phone calls I use to attract the attention of top prospects.
45 Must-Have Email Templates for Gift Officers also leverages best practices from the fields of sales, marketing, persuasion psychology, and fundraising.
They’re proven, word-for-word scripts designed to help gift officers like you get more meetings with VIPs, grow stronger donor relationships, and ultimately, raise more money.
All you need to do is copy, paste, tweak, and send. You’ll enjoy tremendous time savings and the confidence of knowing you’re using tested and proven templates to motivate and inspire your donors.
CLICK HERE today to get your copy of 45 Must-Have Email Templates for Gift Officers, along with 20+ pages of bonus material!
Another template for you today!
Here is my short and sweet follow-up template—enjoy. It’s simple, but extremely powerful. I use it almost every day—and not just in my professional life!
OK, one more.
Congratulations on making it to the very end of the very last article in this four-day series about email. It’s been fun. And I have a special treat for you. It’s another email template! USE THIS ONE to get your boss to say “yes” to your next request for professional development—and foot the bill too!
If you have any lingering questions about email-writing for gift officers, please feel free to send me a note or leave a comment below.
Thanks for your readership. As always, I wish you every success.
Thank you for the email template and tips! Even though I’ve kind of done some of the things you mentioned, it’s great to get validation from a seasoned professional like you.