“For clinking money, you can shake the can. For folding money, you should go ask for it. ” — Harold Seymour, legendary fundraiser
Without a doubt, failing to visit your top supporters and prospects in person is the worst mistake in fundraising.
I have met hundreds of nonprofit CEO’s over the last decade that truly are are bad stewards. They do not understand their responsibility to meet with their top financial supporters and they have grown lazy by depending on the direct response program to provide all the operational income for the organization.
The entire objective of your direct response program (direct mail, website, digital marketing, telemarketing, special events, etc.) is ultimately to put you in front of financial partners who are ready to make a huge investment in your organization or cause. Philanthropists who partner with charities NEVER begin their relationships with a HUGE gift. They usually begin by making a regular gifts through your direct response program. High capacity investors in charity view their giving just like they do their stock investments. They make initial “small gifts” to measure the impact of the organization and if they believe the charity is providing a great return on their investment… they will donate more.
The goal of all of your direct response fundraising is not to just provide net revenue for your charity. It is designed to help you identify and glean from the program individuals who are willing to make 5-figure and 6-figure investments into your organization.
The courageous CEO’s and development professionals are nearly always the most successful. They make it a priority to identify top prospects from the direct response list and meet face-to-face with them every year, every month, every week, and yes, every day.
The best nonprofit managers know how to say thank you. They go to great effort to build relationships. They identify supporters interests and ask them to invest in great causes to change the world!
Start doing it… bang out that email, pick up that phone, thumb pump that text message and ask a supporter with capacity to meet you for a cup of coffee.