This past summer the father of a good high school friend of mine passed away. He spent the last few days of his life in hospice, where he and his family received comfort and care. He passed peacefully, and the family asked that memorials be given to the hospice home in his memory.
Shortly after his passing and my donation to the hospice, I received a brief and thoughtful receipt from the hospice home, recognizing my memorial gift and explaining their mission briefly. I filed the tax receipt and thought that was the end of that.
Months later, I received a phone call from the hospice home. The woman on the phone simply thanked me for my generous gift; no solicitation for a second gift, just a thank you. It seemed odd to me to receive the call months after I had made my gift.
A few days later, I received their year-end appeal in the mail, and it all made sense then. I felt like the timing of the call was to butter me up for their year-end appeal. Had I received the phone call a few weeks after I’d made the gift, it would have felt more genuine.
I suspect that hospices, just like hospitals, have a challenging fundraising model, with a significant percentage of donors making one-time gifts in memory of a loved one and then never giving again. Turning those first-time donors into long-term committed donors is their biggest challenge and the key to their fundraising success.
A well-timed stewardship call to each first-time donor would be helpful to convert more one-time donors into committed donors. Saving up all the calls and then making them once, in advance of an appeal, feels disingenuous and almost manipulative.
I was disappointed by the way this small hospice, which is filling a great need in their community, handled this relationship. It would not take any more time or money to instead make those thank you calls in a more timely basis, and would make all the difference in how donors feel about supporting their mission.
Next post, I’ll tell you about a hospital that I think did an amazing job after receiving a memorial gift.