Four years ago, my grandmother was declared breast cancer free! To honor her victory, I became involved with the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas (BCRC).

Cheryl and Grandma

BCRC’s mission is to ensure nobody fights breast cancer alone, and after my grandma’s experience, I knew the value of the kind of support BCRC provides. So, as we “go pink” for breast cancer awareness this month, I want to share with you an experience I had with BCRC, and encourage you to take a chapter from its fundraising playbook.

Back in March I received an email appeal to give to BCRC during Amplify Austin (the Austin-area giving day), and learned there was a match opportunity. I literally marked my calendar with, “Donate to BCRC.”

I made my donation online that afternoon, and within 10 minutes (no exaggeration) I received a voicemail from a BCRC volunteer thanking me for my gift. What a pleasant surprise! I received a confirmation email, too, but it was the phone call and subsequent voicemail message that stood out to me.

Smart fundraisers and nonprofits are always looking for ways to stand out with their donors and cultivate long-term (and lucrative) relationships. In a perfect world, you’d always call someone the same day they make a donation, but in my experience, the world is not perfect.

For a feasible starting point, I recommend doing what BCRC did and selecting a specific campaign to incorporate thank you calls. To help you get started, below is a short interview with Robin Leonard, Director of Development for BCRC, about how the organization implemented a volunteer thank you call program.

How did you recruit the volunteers to make thank you calls?

We created a short list of board members, clients, and volunteers we determined had a special affiliation with and/or understanding of the mission of BCRC. The Executive Director or Director of Development personally invited these individuals to participate in the “thank-a-thon.”

How did you get the necessary information to your volunteers in a timely manner?

The thank-a-thon was held at the BCRC administrative office. Volunteers could sign up for a shift or stay as long as they liked. We had a staff member who manned our website’s donation page and created lists of donors with their contact information. Volunteers typically received three to five names at a time, which they then called on their own cell phones. We also made sure to have a selection of tasty treats on hand to motivate and reward our call bank volunteers.

What did you learn from this experience that you can use to enhance your next thank you call program?

Our donors seemed to enjoy calls from a client or a board member. Next year, we will recruit more heavily from these groups and use them in place of staff members. We also plan to make it into even more of a party than last year.

Can you share the script you provided to your volunteers?

Hi, may I speak with <donor’s first name>? My name is <your name>. I’m a client/volunteer/member of the board with BCRC and I’m calling to thank you for the generous gift you just made through Amplify Austin.

– Wait for donor comments –

If the donor responds with something like “No problem, BCRC does great work.”

Thank you. It’s because of your donations that BCRC was able to serve 200 more women this year over last year. It really makes a difference!

Have a great day!

If the donor responds saying he/she scheduled the donation prior to today:

Your scheduled gift was processed today. It’s because of your support that BCRC is able to continue helping every woman who walks through the door. Thank you so much.

Have a great day!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with a nonprofit launching its first thank you call program?

Be certain to provide your volunteers with a sample script. Keep the script simple and be certain your volunteers know the script is just a guide. It isn’t something they must read verbatim. Interjecting their own personality is definitely a plus; it makes it more fun for the volunteer and more authentic for the donor.

Abila is proud to have BCRC as an Elevate Early Adopter. As part of the Early Adopter Program, BCRC staff members provide feedback on the product and help shape the product roadmap.