When Donors Come to Visit
In addition to the photos, include a few things that encourage conversation. Some visitors have a difficult time making small talk, but if you can point to a sculpture made by one of the students in your program or even your logo made out of matchsticks, you can engage them as you tell the lively tale behind this or that piece.
A side benefit is that these photos and objects give a great impression to prospective employees, too. Your hiring staffers can extoll the work you do as they point out particular photos, and the candidate gets a glimpse of the heart of the organization, not just the benefits package.
Have people identified who can help tell your organization’s story
Putting someone on the spot is never a good idea. Even if employees are comfortable talking to strangers, it may not be the best time for them to stop what they are doing and answer your questions. Instead, identify a few people, and partner with them to select a story or factoid to share “on demand.” Invite them to choose something that resonates with them and makes their faces light up with every retelling.
While you’re identifying your potential “tour guides” throughout the building, make sure you know what everyone does so you can intelligently explain the work of your organization (in the office or at a program site). I still remember what a human resources person said about me when taking someone around the offices: “This is Pamela. I have no idea what she does, but I think it’s important.” I was not impressed — and I doubt the guest was, either. (Believe me, this is the truth — I couldn’t make this up if I tried.)
Make sure your signage is current and consistent
When we go through a logo change or a name change, no matter how minor, there are myriads of places that need to be updated. Sometimes our offices are overlooked since it’s “just us.” But when a guest arrives, you want to present the organization in the best light. So make sure your signage is up-to-date and your brand is evident throughout the facility.
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.