Girl Scout CookiesSunday afternoon I took a stroll to a retail strip near my home. There, I saw a young Girl Scout with her dad selling her cookies. She held a large pink cookie sign in her hands, put on a pleasant smile and gave “the ask”— “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies, today?” It was hard to say “no, thank you”.

My first thought was, “she kinda missed the season”. Girls Scouts in my area generally sell their cookies in late January or early February. It’s late April and she still had plenty of boxes to tempt passersby.

But then, another thought struck me. “She’s pretty smart, keeping her cookies until everyone’s given up on their New Year’s resolutions to lose weight.” I never could understand why the Girl Scouts sold cookies at that time of year, when dieting is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right after the New Year.

This made me think a little harder about “missing the season” in regards to donors. We send direct mail, emails, postcards maybe even venture a phone call to ask donors to join us in our mission at the same time other non-profits are also asking (4th quarter appeals).

There’s nothing wrong with 4th quarter appeals. Usually they are the workhorse that brings in the most funds for our organizations. I value these appeals as they are tried and true and a great asset to most non-profits!

What I’m trying to say is, what about the donor that didn’t give then? Maybe we should try “out of season” to reach that past donor that didn’t give again in the 4th quarter. Maybe we’ll stand out now, when all the other organizations are not vying for their attention.

All the “experts” agree—it’s a lot more economical to retain a donor than to get new ones. Reaching out to lapsed donors is certainly easier than attracting new ones. They gave to your organization for a reason. Why not call them and find out what motivated them to give in the first place?

This brings to mind the scripture “be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s a good admonition for sharing the good news about Jesus, and about the work of your organization.

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Photo Credit: Marlt & Toomas Hinnosaar