When Donors Come to Visit
A few weeks ago, I returned to Chicago — the city of my birth and where I spent my first half-century (optimistic, aren’t I?) — for a family wedding. I also had the fun of being a tourist since I was accompanied by two friends who were visiting the Windy City for the first time. So no more avoiding the places written up in the tour guides and mumbling under my breath about the people who stopped on the sidewalk, oblivious to hurried commuters, to take a photo of the tall buildings — I became one of them for a few days.
Sometimes it is good to step back and look at our organizations through the eyes of a “tourist” — the person who loves what we do but isn’t familiar with every nuance and certainly not the “dirt” we have shoved into the corners. When donors or prospects arrive at our offices or field sites — expectedly or unexpectedly — what is the impression they take away?
After a while, the paint chip on the wall that is shaped like the state of Vermont and the window that’s been cracked almost forever become familiar, even endearing. The messy bookcases say “creative” to us, but is that the message a casual visitor receives? We may not have a “Welcome — come on in!” sign hanging at the door, but from time to time, donors do stop by — often unexpectedly. The prepared fundraiser makes sure in advance that the organization is ready at a moment’s notice to present itself and its work in a positive light.
Put up photos that represent the work you do
Have a contest among staff, volunteers and the board to submit photos of your work for your walls. (Be mindful of releases if photos are of people, and give the photographer credit.) It is fairly inexpensive to enlarge and mount them, and you achieve two things with this: interesting, mission-focused art for your walls and proud, engaged employees and volunteers.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.