What Fundraisers Can Learn From Golfers

What do the sport of golf and the profession of fundraising have in common? Great follow-through can make or break you!


Golfers will practice endlessly to perfect their swing, including the approach and follow-through, in the hopes of hitting farther and more consistently.


Fundraisers, like golfers, shouldn’t just focus on the first part of their swing (the ask) but should also put as much, if not more, time into the follow-through (stewardship). Yes, it is important to cultivate and craft the right ask for each donor, but you should also be planning on how you will talk to the donor once they make a gift. Even more, you should have a strategy to communicate how their gift made an impact.


Why? Because it is more cost effective to keep an existing donor than recruit a new donor. And that means more donor dollars going to program costs than fundraising costs. A win for everyone.


I propose a second "why" for investing time and resources into your stewardship follow through. It is the right thing to do. If you were a donor, wouldn’t you want to hear from the organization you made a gift to before they asked for support again? Wouldn’t you want to know what their programs accomplished during the year? Wouldn’t that make you more likely to give again – more so than another appeal letter?


I am guessing your answer is “yes”.


So, here are 5 great follow through examples I personally love:


1. New Donor Welcome Packet – complete with your latest Annual Report financials, program details, and photos.


2. A thank you call from staff, board, or volunteers.


3. An old fashioned Annual Report – snail mail a nice printed version to your top donors with a handwritten note, email your entry level donors!


4. A postcard (printing and postage are cheap) with fun photos from the programs supported and a brief thank you message.


5. A personal email during National Thank You Month (January - what better way to start the New Year).

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