There is some disagreement in the fund raising world surrounding how to get meetings with donors. Every time I speak to a different development professional, I often hear a different strategy. Some people I have met would have a promising career as a Secret Agent with the NSA if they were interested in that type of work. They are very ‘cloak and dagger’ with their approach to getting in front of prospects and donors.
I will add my two cents to the discussion. I generally just prefer the direct route. I actually tell the donor that I want to talk to them about making a gift. When this topic comes up amongst my peers, people sometimes look at me like I have a third eye when I make this statement. I prefer to use this approach for two main reasons.
First of all, when I simply tell the donor why I want to visit with them there are no surprises. I don’t know about you, but I generally dislike surprises. I like things to go according to plan. Now, keep in mind that it does not always happen that way. But I like when it does. I find that when donors know why you are there, it cuts through potentially uncomfortable dynamics and allows for more complete and open dialogue.
The other reason why I prefer this approach is that it significantly minimizes my “no” rate. When a donor knows that I am meeting with them to discuss a potential gift, they are acknowledging that they are at least willing to entertain the notion of giving when they accept the meeting. If the donor/prospect is not at all open to making a gift for whatever reason, they are less likely to agree to meet. When they make this clear over the phone, I can then try to work with them to determine why it is not feasible and move forward from there. Perhaps the timing is wrong, maybe I have not cultivated the relationship as much as I should have. Whatever the reason, it can be addressed and we can discuss it at a future date. This saves everyone valuable time.
So, the next time you are tempted to execute your “Secret Agent” strategy, consider just telling your donor/prospect “I would like to speak to you about making a gift to our organization” and see what happens. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Have a great day,