Shannon Doolittle and Beth Ann Locke presented a (livestreamed!) session at the AFP International Fundraising Conference earlier this month on the habits of successful fundraisers. They engaged the audience and talked through how to develop habits to overcome five or six different pain points.

Developing new habits is basically a “Pavlov’s dog” approach. First, you have a cue, then you have a reaction or routine, and then finally, a reward. Initially the reward is probably external – think of the sticker charts we use with our small children to encourage certain behaviors.

But eventually, the routine and good outcome are reward enough. Otherwise, we’d all still have sticker charts for our chores (can you tell I have a 3-year-old?).

One challenge discussed in the session was neglecting proper follow-up after a donor meeting. It’s an easy thing to forget when you walk back in the office to find 50 new emails, six new voicemails, and your staff lined up outside your office with questions.

Here’s the three-part routine for following up after donor meetings that Shannon and Beth Ann recommended.


Donor meeting


Write and send a thank you note. Thank your donor for his or her gift if there was one, but at the very least, for the time taken to meet with you.

Write notes in your database, including follow-up activities. On the off chance you win PowerBall and move to Tahiti, the hard work you’ve done will be immortalized for your team.

Communicate with your team. Consider if there’s anyone else within the organization who needs to know about your meeting, for example, your ED or a board member. Give that person the skinny before you forget (and, before he or she sees said donor again).


Candy or whatever now, long-lasting lucrative donor relationships in the end.

With comprehensive, modern donor management software, the thank you note, meeting notes, and follow-up tasks can ALL be done right in the database. That’s not only convenient, but per your future PowerBall winnings, will be helpful to your successors.