By Jenn Fortner
How do I best follow-up with someone who has said they will give… but hasn’t started giving yet?
My guess is you’ve probably faced this question more than once, seeing this is the dilemma I’m asked about most often as a coach. The 2nd question I get the most? “How do I keep follow-up from being awkward?”
Follow-up can consist of reconnecting with those who are verbally committed, but who need time to pray/consider after an appointment, or for some reason haven’t started their giving yet. I agree, it can feel awkward to try to re-connect with them to get them to start their giving – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some practical tips for changing verbal commitments into actual gifts:
Good follow-up starts at the appointment.
Start setting yourself up for good follow-up during the appointment by following the two C’s:
- COMMUNICATE: If your potential partner needs time to make a decision or to begin their monthly commitment, make sure they understand you will definitely be following up with them. Clearly describe the concrete next steps with them before you walk away from the meeting. If an individual says they would like to join your team, but isn’t ready to start immediately, then clarify these three things:
* When they would like to start giving?
* How much they would like to give?
* And that you will be following up with them until they reach a decision
- CALENDARIZE: Give a clear time frame for follow up. Tell them exactly when you will be contacting them by suggesting a specific date and time. Additionally, text them the evening before you call them to remind them you will be following up with them the next day.
Follow-up is normal. Stick with it!
The need to follow up with individuals after face-to-face appointments is not uncommon at all. When someone pledges to give, but doesn’t get started immediately it can often be put on the back-burner. Let’s be honest: Them starting their support is not weighing on their mind near as much as it is yours! Their good intentions can be waylaid by busyness or tight finances. But, if an individual says they are going to give, let’s give them enough dignity by taking them at their word and believing the best. Let’s not let paranoia slip in and assume the worst. It may just be as simply as reminding them or finding the simplest/quickest way they can start giving. Never blame them. Ultimately it is up to us to help them bridge that gap from the saying to the doing!
Note: It may take several follow-up calls, text messages, or emails before they actually sign up or get started. That’s okay, don’t grow weary. Let them know you understand they are busy, and that you will commit to stick with them, keep touching base, and follow through to the end!
Get rid of the awkwardness!
Don’t ever blame the potential partner for not starting to give. I know you may have to swallow some pride here, but you always take full responsibility. Here are some ideas for avoiding discomfort or clumsiness when you make that next follow-up call:
- You are calling because you were not clear:
“Hi Robert. Hope I am catching you at a good time. I sure enjoyed our lunch together. As I thought about how we ended our time, I realized I may not have been as clear as I should have been on the next steps. It seemed like you definitely wanted to support us, but I don’t think I was specific enough on exactly how and when to get started. Can I fill you in on that?
- You are calling to make sure your records are accurate:
“Hey Jeanie, I’m trying to understand exactly where our support level is at for my upcoming ministry in Spain, and to make sure my records align with what the office has. I haven’t seen your first gift come through from you yet – wondering if that is something you are still planning on doing and when we can expect to see it?”
Remember: If you did a good job with the two C’s of follow up (Communicate & Calendarize) there will be virtually no awkwardness when you make the actual call. No, it was a previously set up appointment that you both agree to. You’re simply making good on the commitment you made!
Other Quick Tips on Follow Up:
- Provide all the information they need to sign up during the appointment and follow up.
- Communicate with potential partners your target date for starting your assignment. This will help create a sense of your need, urgency, and your preferred time in which to start their giving.
- Don’t procrastinate following up. If you say you will call at a certain time, do it!
- Following up with potential partners IS NOT OPTIONAL. You will miss out on support if you do not “put the ball in your court” and follow up.
- Call back on the exact day and time you said you would. If you are not faithful, they will not feel the need to be faithful!
- Make it as easy as possible for them to give. Provide simple ways for people to give in the shortest time possible. This may be texting them a link to your donation website or finding other creative ways to make committing simple.
- Direct calls typically make the best follow up. If needed, ask your potential partner what their preferred mode of communication is for following up.
- Try to set up the follow up call no longer than 24-72 hours, so it will stay on their radar screen. After three days, they will be moving on to other priorities and deadlines.
- Lastly, make sure to make time to ask how they are doing and use the conversation as an opportunity to build a stronger relationship. Starting and maintaining a personal connection with them is what will keep them investing and praying over the long haul!
Jenn Fortner is a support raising coach and writer for Support Raising Solutions (a Missio Nexus member). This article was originally published on Support Raising Solutions. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.