Connecting with Donors: Appointments or Disappointments?
So as you prepare to make an appointment with a prospect, think about your plan to approach this person. There are pros and cons to methods such as e-mail, conventional mail or a phone call; in some cases, all three methods may be used.
The key is creating a strategy around the person you are contacting. Do you know if this contact is the decision maker? What is this person's preferred method of communication for ongoing correspondence? Remember: Your goal is securing a face-to-face meeting that leads to a series of future meetings and significant gifts.
If you choose e-mail, make sure you have the proper authorization to e-mail this person. Some individuals have business addresses while some have home addresses; make sure this information is noted in your fundraising database.
If you're sure you have the prospect's approval, send your meeting request via e-mail from your organization -- on electronic letterhead -- and use whatever means you have to validate that the e-mail is coming from you on behalf of your organization.
E-mail is fast and direct and lets you attach additional information about your organization. Nevertheless, some prospects may consider an e-mail from you to be impersonal and very intrusive. Since the goal of the e-mail is to obtain an appointment, you should use another means of contact if you do not receive a reply within a short time.
A more traditional approach is sending a hard-copy letter to the prospect along with your business card and brief marketing materials. Many older prospects like this approach because they believe it's a personal touch.
Nevertheless, while this approach can be effective, many individuals will not react quickly to your request. Especially in cold-call situations, you may not hear from them unless you follow up via phone or some other means.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.