It can certainly be frustrating when a potential major donor is unresponsive. Generally speaking, we suggest that 3-4 contacts spread out over a period of 4-6 weeks is plenty.
Here a few other things to consider:
Time of Year: It is important to consider the time of year of your contact, because if you can imagine it as a busy time in the life of the donor (summer and the holidays both come to mind) then their lack of communication may be understandable and may not actually indicate a lack of interest in your organization.
Form of Contact: Donors have preferences in communication methods, and respond to different forms of touches. Sometimes looking at the donor’s history can give you some indication as to what types of contacts have elicited responses from the donor in the past.
Contact Purpose: Also consider the nature of your call. Depending on the strength of your existing relationship with that donor, the nature of the call matters. Are you calling with just a say hi or thank you, these may not impart a sense of urgency and an imperative for the donor to contact you back.
Donor’s Life: We also encourage our clients to remember that charitable activities are not often the donor’s highest priority and that often family, friends and business come first. If you have a board member or volunteer connection to the donor, you may want to inquire with them privately if the donor is having any significant personal or familial issues that would make it an inopportune time to reach out.
Regardless of any of these, we suggest sending a personal note sharing that you’ve been reaching out and for what reason. Include in your note a specific upcoming engagement opportunity. Keep them on your contact list to attempt one more time when there is truly something important or urgent to share with them. If, after that, you still receive no engagement, then keep them on your mailing lists but put them in your inactive portfolio until the donor initiates contact/support again.
All of this being said, it can be just as important to know which donors are less interested/connected to your organization as it is to know who is. There is certainly a time to “bless and release” a major gift prospect. When one name is scratched off, it makes room in your portfolio for another!