fundraising on a shoestring - part 2 of 3

Here is part two of three straightforward and budget-friendly tips and tools to help you raise more money.

In part 1, we covered donor thank you calls. Now it's time to take it to the next step with a face-to-face interaction – your donor meeting!

Donor meetings are like gold. Seriously. Meeting with a donor can be like finding a hidden treasure.

How? Use that time to listen to your donors about what’s important to them. The more donors you meet with, the better idea you’ll have of the big picture, which will help you develop fundraising strategies based on what works for your particular donors. So maybe not the treasure itself, this is more like your treasure map.

Identify a baseline of criteria for donors you want to meet with. The criteria will depend on the size of your donor list, but aim for a least the top 10-20% of your donors. Similar to thank you calls, err on the side of reaching out to more donors.

Here are some options for you to consider:

• Donor who gives more than $_________ • First-time donors • Donor who has been giving for _____ years or more • Increase in donation amount • Donors who are also volunteers

Pull a list of all the donors who meet your criteria and order them. That could be starting with those who are most engaged; lease engaged; give the most; give the least. You choose where to start.

Systematically go through the list, one-by-one, reaching out to book meetings. You can reach out to 2 or 3 donors at a time. Work through the list, moving on if some people don't get back to you right away. Dedicate just 10 minutes a day to reach out and book meetings.

Be honest and straightforward. If there's something specific you want from the meeting, say so. If it's just a "get to know you" meeting, say that. These meetings are NOT to ask for money and if the donor asks, let them know that you're not going to be asking for a gift at this time, you just want to get to know them better.

Identify how your donors are more likely to respond and start with that. If it's a phone call and they don't answer, try leaving a voice message and follow up with an email 2 days later. If you start with an email, follow up with a phone call. Don't give up if you don't hear back right away. Keep going through the list and then circle back every 3-4 weeks to anyone who didn't respond.

Sometimes donors will ask why you want to meet with them, and this trips a lot of people up. Honesty and authenticity are always the best ways to convince donors of giving you their time.

Simply say something like: "I'm reaching out to some of our most important donors, yes, that's you, to learn more about why they give. Your feedback and insights would be very valuable."

You'll find that once you get to know your donors well, they will be less hesitant to book a meeting. At that point, you can just say: "It's been a while and I'd like to catch up."

A lot of people get really nervous before meeting with a donor, even if there's no ask on the table. The outcome from these meetings is simply to learn more about your donors, so remind yourself that there's no pressure.

Start with some usual small talk. You're talking to another person, so remember, they have many interests and things going on that they like to talk about. Find areas that you have in common. Remind the donor why you're there. I find it's always helpful to just re-state why you wanted the meeting. It helps focus you and the donor and puts the donor at ease. Remember, donors can be nervous too, especially when they think you might be asking for more money, so if you take that off the table right away, they will be more at ease too.

Share an update. If you already know what the donor is interested in, you can share a brief update. Especially if it's something they've given towards in the past.

Ask meaningful questions. Come up with a few questions you can ask in advance, but really listen to what the donor is saying and frame your questions around that. This requires active listening. This is not an interview, it's a conversation, so go with the flow.

You can ask questions such as:

What first attracted you to our organization? What has been your favourite experience with us to date? What if you seen other nonprofits do that you think we should consider? From a fundraising perspective or programming perspective? What has been the most valuable way that we communicate with you? What can we do better?

Follow up. When you're done, send the donor a thank you note, by mail or email. If there was anything outstanding from the meeting, make a note to follow up appropriately. If the donor asks you something in the meeting that you don't have an answer to, that's fine! Just say so and follow up with them with the answer.

Repeat. You should be meeting with your top donors 2-3 times a year. Make this a priority for your time. If you are like most fundraisers or executive directors in a small or mid-sized organization, you have lots on your plate. Try to carve out time to meet with a least one donor a week. If you want to aim a bit higher, a good goal is 3-5 donor meetings/week. Don’t forget to ask them to invite friends out or even help ask new potential donors for gifts.

Voila! You have your second, super-easy tip. Once you start doing these things well, you'll have a connected and empowered community of donors. Guess what - they are your BEST resource to find new donors AND will become brand ambassadors for you too!

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437-886-6047 |