In a webinar I hosted on major gift fundraising by my friend and colleague Amy Eisenstein, people posed more than 100 questions. Many of them focused on one aspect or another of getting donor meetings.
Three questions stood out because they underscore the need for honesty and authenticity over tricks and tactics.
1. Do you have to tell people ahead of time that you are going to ask for a gift at the meeting?
Yes! If the purpose of your visit is to ask a donor for a gift, don’t pretend otherwise when you call to schedule the meeting.
Because baiting and switching will undermine your relationship with your donor. Your donor thinks you are interested in catching up, but what you really want is money. This approach will feel awkward to you and offensive to your donor.
You might worry that if your donor knows the real purpose of your visit she won’t want to meet with you. But look at it this way… If your donor really doesn’t want to give, you are better off finding that out quickly. And if they do want to meet to discuss their gift, you are set up for a successful visit!
Always be ready to ask for a gift.
Sometimes you can ask for a gift even if you didn’t tell the donor in advance.
If you’ve scheduled a meeting and have no intention of asking for a gift, but your donor asks how she might help, you should be ready to suggest what she can do.
2. What if the donor wants to make her gift over the phone rather than meeting?
When a donor tells you she’d rather make the gift over the phone, push back a bit. Tell her that you’d love to meet in person to have a chance to learn more about her.
You might say something like this:
Joanna, you’ve been giving to us for 7 years now and I’ve never had a chance to sit down with you to talk. I don’t know why you give or why our organization is important to you. I’d love to get to know you a bit. It’ll help me understand better the kinds of things you’d like to give to. How about meeting for a cup of coffee next week?
If she still wants to take care of the gift on the phone, then do it her way. But be sure to extend an invitation to sit down with her at another time.
In-person meetings work better.
The reason in-person meetings work better is not because you can hoodwink your donor into a bigger gift, but because when you sit down and talk with a donor, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about them. And when you know more about them, you’ll know more about how they like to give and what would give them pleasure.
3. What if a major donor sees through all of our “advice visit tricks?”
If your donor sees through your “tricks,” you’ve got the wrong approach.
Don’t try to trick your donor. Ever!
If you go to a donor to ask for advice, you must really want that advice. If you say want to learn more about your donor, ask them questions to draw them out. Find out what they enjoy doing, how they like to give, what it is about your organization that inspires them.
Donors are just people.
They enjoy having trustworthy relationships with people who share common values. Trust that process. Find out what your donors would like to do and help them do achieve their goals.
That’s not trickery!
The webinar itself lasted for about 60 minutes and then we extended it by almost another 40 minutes to answer the myriad of questions that came in. There’s some great information in this webinar you won’t find elsewhere. Check it out — you’ll learn a ton!What if the donor wants to make her gift over the phone rather than meeting? #fundraising Click To Tweet