It’s Personal!

Published by Juan Hendrawan on

This is my third blog for 101fundraising and while other may prefer to write about theories of giving. I like to write more about technical things that, hopefully, can immediately help you.

In my previous blogs, I talked about “drip-drip” marketing for legacy fundraising and about organising a legacy event.  Now, I want to discuss how using a “personal touch” can help legacy fundraising

In Indonesia we have a phrase ‘Tak kenal maka tak sayang’— which means “if you don’t get to know people, it’s impossible for you to care for them.”  And with legacy fundraising, personalisation can be a VERY  important factor.

In the WWF Network, globally, we have 24 national offices that have a legacy program. However, there are still not many offices that dare to put a picture of their legacy manager on the website. Sometimes, not only do they not have a picture, but also there is no personal email address for people to contact!  If you don’t feel comfortable putting your own picture on the website, (which is understandable, but not advised) at least put your name and personal clickable email address. I don’t suggest putting a general email like: legacy@xxx.org or plannedgiving@xxx.com.

The reason why change is so difficult for offices trying to become “more person” varies from office to office. For bigger offices with high legacy income, they feel they simply won’t have time to handle the thousands of  legacy donors they may have. For smaller offices, they are afraid people will start calling them for personal advice.

In my experience, not all donors will give you a call (Relax! You won’t be popular just because your picture is on your website), and if they do give you a call, it means they are serious about leaving a legacy. Legacy donors like to be treated differently and they should be made to feel special. So, when they call you and make an effort to get information, then you just need to make sure you give  them a pleasant experience, accommodate their needs and listen to their story. Sometimes, really, they just want to chat to a real, live person.

WWF Netherlands has one of the biggest legacy incomes in the WWF Network and I think the key of this success because of their great legacy manager, who actively building relationship with her donors. Her picture is on the WWF Netherlands website if you want to get to know her. She talks with many of her donors, visiting them at their home regularly, inviting them to WWF events, having lunch with them once a year at legacy brunch in our office,  and listen to the donors’ stories via phone!  And guess what? Our donors love her! Surprise!  She builds trust and good relationship with her donors.

For example, I think it might be beneficial to try to send a mailing to your donors that is written and signed by the legacy manager and not the CEO. To make the donors feel they are important, the foreword on the legacy brochure or a thank you letter can still come from the CEO/Program Director.

There are many approaches to legacy fundraising but I think donors really like the personal touch and think its important factor. I personally prefer to talk about my personal life to someone who I can relate to (legacy manager) than to someone who is CEO or Director.  Do you agree? Or not?

Hope you enjoyed this blog.  I’m Juan Hendrawan and I’m “telling it like it is” from Zeist, Netherlands.

Juan Hendrawan

Juan Hendrawan

Juan is a member of WWF's international fundraising development department focusing on individual fundraising. As part as his job he is responsible for helping WWF's offices worldwide to build its legacies fundraising program. He also organizes workshops, internal websites and knowledge exchange within WWF fundraisers. He is based in Belgium and an avid dressage rider (loves horses and dogs).


Pamela Grow · August 27, 2012 at 14:20

Excellent post, Juan! I believe the future of fundraising lies in being personal.

Barbara Talisman, CFRE · August 27, 2012 at 14:24

Thanks for this great insight. Planned giving is such an important part of any successful fundraising plan. Especially important to build that legacy program for generations to come – long after current fundraisers are around.

You are right on about personalization and reaching out to donors interested in leaving a legacy (or any other gift). It always strikes me when organizations and some fundraisers fear an onslaught of calls or emails they can’t handle. You are so right! If and when they do call or write – they are ready and we should be available and willing to talk to them. Like any donor, they want to be heard, engaged and involved before they make their gift.

Your Indonesian saying, “if you don’t get to know people, it’s impossible for you to care for them.” applies universally in and out of the nonprofit sector – thank you for sharing and reminding us of our true north.

    Juan Hendrawan

    Juan Hendrawan · August 27, 2012 at 14:36

    Thank you, Barbara! The Indonesian saying and my Dutch colleague really inspired me to write this blog. Have a good week ahead! cheers!

Paul Nazareth · August 27, 2012 at 15:25

Yes, yes a thousand times yes!!! As a fundraisers for over a decade I always believed that without the human connection we were treating the “gift” and the donor as a clinical transaction. There was also this strong institutional fallacy that generic emails and front desk phone numbers was more “professional”. The work charities do is mixed with the blood and guts of humanity, it touches our heart, mind and soul. It’s not business, damn right it’s personal.

Now as a philanthropic advisor for a corporate donor advised fund I am constantly calling charities to clarify giving plans for my clients. So I’m on charity websites every single day and it’s no longer a pet peeve. Money is lost when I can’t find the right person to talk to quickly and directly. As a fundraiser, that breaks my professional heart to know that something as simple as a website could derail a gift.

Great post Juan!

    Juan Hendrawan

    Juan Hendrawan · August 27, 2012 at 16:52

    Thanks Paul! I appreciate you supportive comment! Glad that I am not the only one with this personal-touch view. :) Have a great day!

Trisna Tungadi · August 27, 2012 at 22:25

Well-written Ju. I have no prior knowledge about legacy donors or legacy fundraising before I read this post of yours, but completely agree with you that a bit of personalisation can go a long way !

Jacklyn Johnson · September 1, 2012 at 19:11

Hello. Thank you for taking the time to read this brief post. I found a great application within Facebook called Evertalk where you can can setup fundraising campaigns to help families with hospital bills and funeral services. heir web site is http://www.everta.lk Hope this helps.

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