I have had a unique career. I have worked as a vice president of philanthropy, a director of development, and a major gift officer. Today, I advise non-profits and provide training and support for growing their organizations. I love sharing what I’ve learned first hand from the experiences I’ve had with thousands of finanicial partners (a.k.a. donors) and with the marketing programs used identify and communicate with them.
Over the last few weeks I have met with several wonderful charities… all facing tremendous financial challenges. After discussions about their websites, giving pages, number of direct response appeals, ask handles, gift arrays, fundraising banquets and mail formats I ask a question that often brings long, self reflective, periods of silence:
“How many indidvidual, face-to-face, meetings did you do last year?”
After sometime passes, I expain that over the last year I worked with a charity where we made a remarkable difference in income by meeting with financial partners… I have personally met with 117 families over the last 12 months. Of course, I always thank them for their support. Then I listend to why they give and tailor an “ask” based upon their desires, not mine.
Make no mistake about it, it does begin with acquisition. Acquiring donors with both capacity and donative intent only happens by design. Then getting donors to renew their giving and increase their giving requires a plan for moving each and every donor up the “giving pyramid”. I like to call it “climbing the ladder.”
Are your donors climbing the ladder?
As you identify donors who give or have 4-figure and 5-figure capacity your organization must put a plan in place to meet them personally. You must thank them and, as importantly, ask them personally.
So often the thought of carving out time to meet with donors seems like an impossible task for development directors and executive directors. My recommendation is to simply begin where you are… decide how many meetings you can do a week or a month and then DO IT!
I like to give people an easy way to visualize the task… “100 cups of coffee.” The fact is if your charity will meet each year with your top 100 supporters you will increase giving dramatically. Could you do just 2 coffee meetings a week? That’s all it takes…
100 cups a coffee a year will transform your charity. I challenge you to try it!