Equipping your major gift officer to get the most from their time with high-level donors is often the key to a successful donor meeting trip.
And it’s always necessary to prepare for face-to-face contact with the supporters who might be ready and willing to help your organization make more impact.
Before your major gift officer takes off on the next trip, offer these helpful tips:
Build everything around your anchor meetings.
Anchor meetings are simply meetings with donors you know you need to meet with. And preferably, you have at least two donors to meet with per trip.
You need to have at least two meetings set up (three or four is better) because inevitably, someone is going to bail on you at the last second. Why is that? It could be that their teenager had a wreck or came down with the flu. Or maybe they forgot about the meeting. Perhaps another business meeting popped up that needed to be addressed.
Have secondary appointments.
Here at Dunham+Company, we call these “coffee meetings.” After your anchor meetings, meet with potential prospects in the area and get to know them better.
Set up back-up appointments.
These are typically “thank you” visits and something you keep handy for when your anchor meeting or coffee meeting cancels the appointment.
When a donor cancels on you last minute, have a list of donors in your back pocket that you have been wanting to connect with. Call and tell them you have a book or CD for them and want to stop by to say thanks for being a faithful supporter for X number of years.
How then should you prep for these upcoming meetings?
1. Develop a dossier for every person you meet.
Let’s say I’m departing from Dallas and going to San Diego, and I’m going to spend three days with 12 donors. What happens when you’ve gotten to the end of your second day and all the information you’ve collected over that time starts to jumble together?
You just had two meetings back to back, both with a guy named Matt. Now your information is starting to potentially intertwine. That’s when a dossier for each one of your appointments comes in handy. Jot down some notes and move to a fresh page for the next meeting.
Why do we do this?
A picture of the client and basic information (spouse, children, etc.) simply reminds you of previous meetings and specific things to ask about… showing you care.
2. Establish gift goals and stage classifications for each donor.
“What was the planning I did four months ago and what is the goal that I have for this donor?”
Of course, goals can change and shift based on many circumstances, but at least you can now remind yourself of the gift goal or stage classification and prepare to take the donor to the next level.
3. Collect research.
What business are they in? What title do they hold within that business? Do they have a foundation? Are they very philanthropic? This research allows me to bring to the forefront who this donor is and how they conduct their day-to-day business.
4. Record gift history.
This information allows you to be very specific in what you are thanking them for, allowing them to feel valued and appreciated.
5. Identify primary objectives for the meeting.
What’s your purpose in meeting? The answer could be to ask a few key questions, understand how they align with the organization, or simply ask them for permission to come back with a proposal. Whether your appointment is 15 minutes or three hours, you want to check off exactly what you came to accomplish.
All in all, by forming these habits you’ll visit with more donors and ultimately see growth in your major gift program.
For more information on major gift strategies, check out our Dunham Institute course, Major Gift Development: Managing Expectations.
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