The Long-Term Value of Five Minutes

There is a story about a one-man bike repair shop where, on every repair, the owner would spend five more minutes to do something a little extra: add a streamer or remove some rust; nothing extravagant, but something to show he appreciated the business. I was recently reminded of this story, and it brought to mind an example that applies to fundraising from a small nonprofit that I have given to for years. One day, I got a call from their vice president (VP) of development thanking me for my recent $40 gift to the ministry. Shocked by this I started to probe. Obviously the VP can’t call all the low-dollar donors, even the multi-year ones, so what was this really about? I was excited because I thought I was going to hear some new fundraising spin. But instead, the VP just tells me that at the end of his day he takes the giving report, finds a few names with phone numbers and gives them a call to thank them personally. He knows he can’t call everyone, but the ones he reaches are always thankful. They have major donor representatives for the high value ones, but no one thinks of taking the time to thank the consistent donors at the bottom of the giving triangle. Obviously, I was touched by the thought and the call. And his few minutes at the end of his day sealed it — I will be a donor with them for a long time. Which means he had a pretty good return on his thank-you call and his five minutes at the end of the day.