Use Holiday Parties to Pre-Stage Donor Meetings
Today’s post was inspired by my colleague, Peter Heller of Heller Fundraising Group.
As you attend holiday party after holiday party in this festive season, you may have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for meeting with some of your largest donors in the New Year. How do you make those meetings happen?
Peter Heller has an answer to that question. It’s called, “The Whisper Strategy.”
If you are at a holiday party and you see a major donor prospect you don’t know well, you can use Peter’s simple and effective strategy to begin a cultivation process that otherwise might not happen.
Here’s How Simple It Is
At your event, you spot a major donor prospect. You introduce yourself and engage the donor in a bit of polite conversation. During the conversation, you say (The Whisper)…
I am wondering if I might call your office next week to schedule a time to meet so that I can…
You might complete The Whisper with:
…learn more about your interests as they touch on our work.
…ask your advice about....
…follow up on Sue’s letter regarding our campaign.
What Type of Prospects Are We Talking About?
Use this strategy with people who are already in your organization’s orbit, but who you have not yet gotten close enough to have an easy dialogue, phone or email relationship.
As Peter says, “These prospects are not total strangers or pie-in-the-sky prospects (like Bill Gates); they are also not your closest friends, though there are occasional exceptions to this when you can’t get your friend’s attention in other ways.”
When Should You Use it?
The Whisper Strategy is good for holiday parties, but it also works at events or meetings where discussing your organization’s fundraising agenda would not be effective or appropriate.
Get Your ED and Board Members “Whispering” Too
Share this strategy with your executive director and board members. Encourage them to whisper in the ears of potential donors they meet at holiday parties this season. If you have several people paving the way to donor meetings at parties this season, you’ll set yourself up for successful fundraising in the New Year.
After all, once you’ve asked a prospective donor if you can call to schedule a meeting, then you have to do it. And the chances are good, they’ll take your meeting.
Want more information about getting to know your major donors? Here’s a round-up of great, practical information.
Andrea Kihlstedt is a co-founder of the Capital Campaign Toolkit. She is the author of "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work," now in its fourth edition, as well as "How to Raise $1 Million (or More) in 10 Bite Sized Steps," in addition to other books. Andrea has been leading successful capital campaigns for more than 30 years.