Donor Visits: Be in the Moment
People talk about being in the moment. It is a very important lesson for fundraising professionals. Be alert. Be where you are. Be engaged with the people around you.
It is essential in our business. I have been on many donor calls where the person accompanying me—usually a staff member—seemed to have been in a different visit. They missed many of the messages and cues from the prospective donor(s).
Research shows it is impossible to effectively multitask. Our minds only thoroughly can focus on one thing at once. I preach this. But too often I have to reset myself as I shut down after jumping from task to task, project to project, not really getting anything done, but trying to please my desire to get a lot done.
In the office, focus-killers can be regularly checking emails (especially with those alert sounds), social media, texting and even radio, like talk radio, that engages us in a conversation—we can’t have two thoughts at once.
The same is very true about visits. If we are worried about what we should say next, another visit or a crisis with which we are dealing, we are not paying respect to those we are near.
Prospective donors know when we are not fully engaged. They deserve—and we owe them—our full attention. So be sure that you have cleared your mind and your calendar in order to focus on each visit. Be sure that your goals for the visit are genuine, realistic and built on your last steps with that prospective donor.
The best gift-invitation visits are built on strong relationships. When that is the case, beyond a few basics, it is less important what you say, and more important that you are letting the prospective donor speak and you are listening.
This holiday season is a good time to practice. Be with the people you are near. Be focused on the present. Be fully engaged in deepening relationships with your donors.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.