5 steps to a Holiday Out-of-Office that inspires | npENGAGE

5 steps to a Holiday Out-of-Office that inspires

By on Dec 17, 2013


About to set your out of office for the holidays?  You have a golden opportunity to create an out of office that inspires your donors to make a year-end gift!  This is not the time for an uninspiring auto responder, with creativity you can put a warm glow on your organization right when people are thinking about giving back most.

1) Start with a thanks

First and foremost, thank them for being a friend to the organization, i.e. “I am so thankful for friends like you.”

2) Make THEM the hero

Donors want to make a difference, feel appreciated and feel “in the know”.  Be the lightening rod to make them feel personally connected to something greater than themselves.  Your message can put a fire in their belly.   Share a short inspiring example of how THEY are having an impact.  Yes, THEY – not you!  Here’s some examples of your next line to open the story:  “Look what you made possible” or “I have a great story to share with you” or “You’ve given hope to…”

3) Tell a dramatic story about one character with conflict

Do not share facts, statistics or percentages.  Do not use jargon.  Introduce a relatable hero/heroine who overcame obstacles.  Conflict that makes your story engaging.  It makes us root for the heroine, keep reading to find out what happens and invest ourselves into them succeeding.  Use words that evoke feelings.   Engage the reader’s senses in your story.   “Misty was a single mom who had just gotten a new job and a new apartment for her family when she fell in love with an abusive boyfriend.”   At the end give the reader credit for their transformation.   “Because of friends like you, Misty is now _____________________.”

4) Include a call to action

“The demand for our services to help women just like Misty is increasing faster than our annual fundraising can grow.  When we have additional resources we will _________________ . Here’s how your gift can make a difference __________________.

5) Make sure your full contact info and cell phone is included and invite donors to use it

Have you ever been lucky enough to get a large unsolicited gift you were not expecting over the holidays?  A donor might want to call you in person to tell you about the gift they have decided to make.  This does not mean you have to work over the holidays but do share your contact information so a donor can call you if they want to.

Before you go enjoy a glass of eggnog, remember that you can set an inspiring out of office year round.   Do you take a day (or more) off after your large gala?  Today’s blog post was inspired by a guide I wrote on how to set an out-of-office after an event

Putting your out of office to work connecting your donors with your cause isn’t limited to end of year, events or even the development staff.  Any staff person out of the office can do it and being out for a day (or more) in the field working with clients is a great opportunity to connect your constituents with your cause, make the great work you do come alive.  Don’t forget to be donor centered, meaning make the donor the hero of your story and the amazing work you get to do.

About Rachel Muir, CFRE is a fundraising consultant, speaker and trainer transforming nonprofit professionals and organizations into successful, confident fundraisers. 



When she was just 26 years old, Rachel Muir founded Girlstart, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls in math, science, engineering and technology. She was told as a child that girls are not good at math and science. One day, a major light bulb went off over her head and she decided to do something. She jumped in and started Girlstart in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card.  Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.  She veered away from the typical ED or CEO titles, and her business cards said, Rachel Muir, Girlstart, Fearless Leader.

A winner of Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award, Rachel is a three time finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, was named “Outstanding Fundraising Executive of the Year” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and one of Fast Company Magazines “Fast 50″ Champions of Innovation.

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