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Lasting Relationships Are Made in Person

Do you find yourself spending a lot of time behind your desk thinking about your development tasks, working on strategic planning, worrying about some ultimately inconsequential special event detail, or going to meetings-none of which is helpful when it comes to raising money? It can be easy to forget that a fundraiser’s number one job is securing donations for his or her cause.

Lasting relationships with donors are not cultivated through websites, e-mails, or brochures. They’re built in person, through one-to-one conversations and face-to-face interactions.

What you need to do is get up and get out! Personally building and maintaining strong relationships with donors occurs outside of your office and must be an integral and intentional part of your day-to-day development activity.

Getting out to visit in person results in donors who feel more connected to your organization, ultimately producing larger gifts. It’s still true that people give to people and people give more to people in person than they do via any other means of communication.

Here are some suggestions for meeting potential donors:

  1. Meet potential donors in their environments and at their convenience--This is what major gifts officers do when they travel out-of-state. You should try it. Get out of your office. Thank people and provide them with organizational updates. Set up appointments in advance as if you were going to a meeting out-of-state. Try to see 5-7 people a day.

  2. Swing by if you can’t get an appointment-- If, after several attempts, you can’t get in to see your donor, just stop by their place of business. Come with a gift like a coffee mug from your organization filled with candy, a bumper sticker, or a t-shirt with your organization’s name on it. If the donor is unavailable, leave the gift and your business card and follow up in a day or two over the phone.

  3. Meet at the donor’s home-- Do this only if you have an appointment. Do not show up unannounced.

  4. Network with those who already support you-- Ask your supporters to identify and introduce you to people that may have the ability and inclination to want to support your organization.

  5. Find something you have in common. If you’re a golfer or like to fish and he/she does too, it can be a great way to hang out, do something you both like and get your prospect or donor closer to your organization.

Fundraising is all about relationships and the closer and stronger the relationship, the more significant the gift will be. Now it’s time. Get up and get out of your office- be a great ambassador for your organization. At the same time you’ll also be a great fundraiser.

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