August 11, 2017 Doug Shaw

This rule is one that I actually enjoy. Anybody who really knows me wouldn’t be surprised by this at all. I’m always in a hurry! If I could, I’d have everything done yesterday!

Maybe that’s why I like Jimmy John’s™ TV and radio commercials. They are a Chicago-based sandwich company that makes great food. If you’re familiar with them, you’ve likely been exposed to their commercials, the ones that say, “We deliver FREAKY FAST™!” One of their TV spots features an elderly man, sitting in his easy chair with a TV tray in front of him. He despondently looks at his traditional TV dinner, picks it up and throws it over his right shoulder. Reaching for the phone, he dials and says, “Hello, Jimmy John’s™?” The very next moment his doorbell rings, the old man hollers, “C’mon in!” And, as the door opens, the Jimmy John’sTM deliveryman is leaning against the doorpost! He says with a smile, “Jimmy John’s™!” A voice-over says, “FREAKY FAST!™”

Maybe it’s because I eat a lot of room service; I don’t know. But it feels like it’s every person’s dream to have instant gratification, especially when you’re hungry. I’m used to hearing room service or maybe even the pizza guy say, “That’ll be to you within an hour…” I immediately look at my watch and grab a mozzarella stick out of the small fridge in my hotel room.

I absolutely LOVE it when someone exceeds my expectations! And I don’t think I’m alone in this. Your donors are the same way. They LOVE promptness and accuracy! In The Rules of Fundraising, I spent quite a bit of time on the importance of processing and mailing donor thank-you letters back to your supporters within 24-48 hours. This is to exceed expectations and to give them something in their hands to be able to give your ministry yet another gift. Speed is critical here. It tells the donor you are thankful and prompt. It also thanks them before another solicitation arrives. This is exactly why I discourage online receipting. Yes, it is faster than snail mail, but traditional, 1st-class mail is MUCH more effective in obtaining “bounce-back” or thank-you letter gifts. It’s this fundraiser’s experience that using 3rd-class postage is slower and much of the mail is never delivered. The end result is less speed for your thank-you letter and sometimes (about a third of the time, according to postal watchdog groups), no 3rd-class letter is delivered at all! Let’s face it, when a donor has to make the decision between giving to two equally wonderful causes, a prompt thank you tilts the scales in your favor.

Employing the FREAKY FAST approach to all other aspects of donor-initiated communication will help to instill in donors that you know them and that you care. When a donor takes the time to telephone your ministry, what do they hear? Is it a recorded message that sends them all over the universe pressing buttons to finally reach the message, “Hello, you’ve reached Joe in the Development Office. I can’t take your call right now, but every call is important, so please leave a message after the tone”?

Having worked as the Vice President of Resource Development for a nonprofit, I found it helpful to establish a direct line for donors to call that was answered in the Development Department. During office hours we made certain that donors could always have quick and easy access to a listening, caring human being.

Several years ago, I was particularly pleased to walk into a ministry and hear their receptionist answer the phone, “Good afternoon, this is [ministry name], how can I serve you?” I was so impressed with the attitude of service that I’ve adopted the same approach for my own company. If you call during business hours you should have a friendly voice answer and say, “Douglas Shaw & Associates, how may I serve you?” Fast, personal, friendly and welcoming are all part of the rule that Speed counts!

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