by Andy Canada
If you are reading this blog, stop reading and pick up the phone and set three appointments to personally visit with your donors and prospects.
Okay, maybe you can finish reading this before you start calling, but if your job description calls for you to personally solicit gifts on behalf of your organization then you need to get out of the office.
Many times when we are working with clients one of the key focus areas during our discussions is ensuring leadership, staff, and volunteers are dedicating enough time to personally visit with donors and prospects.
Getting out of the office and talking with donors is the best way to build a strong relationship. Fundraising is about building relationships and connecting donors to your organization.
It sounds easy enough and everyone knows they need to be visiting with donors, but in many cases it is an area that doesn’t receive enough attention.
Development staff members are juggling many priorities at the same time and in some cases also take on projects that might not directly impact fundraising. While all of the activities may be important to the organization , it would be difficult to find anything more important than personally visiting with your donors.
Your time is valuable so be effective and efficient in your process. Here are some basic steps to help you keep a focused approach:
- Identify the prospects that you want to visit within the next 30 to 90 days.
- If travel is required, develop a plan for when you are able to be in a certain area and group your calls together to ensure you are utilizing your time the best you can.
- Block your calendar and make calls. This process can take longer than you expect. You will be leaving messages, waiting for call backs, exchanging emails, etc. Just be sure you allow yourself time.
- Don’t be discouraged. It’s easy to stop making phone calls when you can’t reach someone or get turned down for a donor meeting. But you have to be persistent and keep calling and trying to connect with the prospects on your list.
- Have an agenda set for each of your visits. What is your goal for this visit? Is it to close a gift? Learn more about a donor’s connection to your organization? You need to have a goal in mind for each visit. The discussion might take you down a new path, but you should go into the visit with a goal in mind.
Visiting with donors should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of the job. You are learning about a donor, their connection to the organization, educating the donor about the organization, and finding ways to strengthen that connection. The result will be increased support for your organization and more job satisfaction for you.
The process can feel overwhelming at times and it is easy to put off until tomorrow or next week, but it is important to make it a priority.
So stop reading and set up appointments today!
For more information on building an effective, systematic major gift program, download the JGA tip sheet.