The Trouble With Securing Donor Meetings
Are getting donor meetings more difficult for you than securing gifts? If so, that’s my experience, too. The fact is that if you get the meeting, your chances of securing the gift are relatively certain.
Why Is It so Difficult?
There are many answers to this question. We’ve become more dependent on technology and, because of it, our donor relationships are more distant. It’s easier to zoom in for a video call than to leave your office and meet in person. Another reason is that the increase in income disparity has left social circles less integrated and with less access to individuals of high net worth. Third, wealthy people tell me that they are inundated with requests more than ever before, and they have their defenses up as a result.
I am sure you can add to this list, but the question remains, “What we can do about it?” I have a few suggestions.
1. Set Boundaries.
I never try more than three times. I vary my methods between email, a phone call and a mailed letter, and I space out the timing of those methods with three business days. Setting boundaries is important because we don’t want to come off as beggars. A handwritten note or card can be one of these three attempts and that often gets me a call back the next day.
2. Six Degrees of Separation.
Using relationship science software is essential in this modern era to identify who knows whom and asking the person with the most direct contact to introduce us to the prospective donor. My colleague calls these “warm introductions.” I like that. The person that you know asks the person that you want to meet with to make a warm introduction, to pave the way for you. It works. Sometimes the person making the introduction can join you.
Donors have needs, too: tax-saving needs, estate-planning needs, needs related to involving their children in their giving decisions, to name a few. Are you meeting their needs? I recently held a special breakfast gathering for a group of my donors, and 15 people attended. The session lasted 90-minutes, and I brought in an expert speaker concerning donor-advised funds. They loved it, and I was able to share some updates about the nonprofit organization in question. We engaged them about something they wanted to learn more about, and that allowed us to update them in person.
Write the donor to ask for their input and advice. Everyone likes to be asked their opinion. May I have your input on a new initiative we’re thinking of launching? This is a terrific way to build a real relationship.
5. Thank-You Gift.
I donate to an elementary school in a very poor city and have done so for years, making two scholarships each year. At the end of every year, a student will stop by my office unexpected, no appointment, accompanied by his or her teacher, to say thank you and to hand me some baked goods or an arts and crafts item that he or she made. One year I received a pipe cleaner pen and pencil holder, and it remains on my desk to this day. Your gift must be value-aligned, not cheesy or too expensive. You can bet that I always return the fundraiser’s call. Wouldn’t you?
What ways have worked for you to secure donor meetings? Please share it with us on our blog.
Laurence is author of "The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution," the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.