Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Donor conversations are free! Part I

I am a pretty outgoing person (many who know me would call that an understatement) and one of the things I absolutely love about my job is that I get to talk with people about our agency's mission all the time. And I get to ask them to financially partner with us, knowing that their support enables us to do even more!

As I considered what my next topic would be I kept looking out my office window, which means I have to directly look at what is lovingly called here as my "comfy chair". My comfy chair actually came to me free, an exchange for helping a local company with their Twitter and Facebook. Now I have this gorgeous, comfortable chair for donors, potential donors, sponsors, and co-workers to relax in while we converse.

Conversing with donors. Sounds easy, and yet I recognize for many in fundraising it is challenging. As I hear on Nike commercials, Just DO It! And it doesn't cost anything!

I try to have a face to face with a donor at least once or twice a week. The amount depends on how many donors you have and how easy it is for them to meet with you. You don't need a comfy chair (but it helps!). If you share an office use the staff meeting room or arrange to meet at a coffee house. I prefer my office, with the donor seated in the comfy chair, so they experience our staff and see all of the great things we are doing which are posted on my office walls.

Once we have a conversation I take them on the tour, and there are two places that make the entire visit worth while: our HIV testing room and our food bank. The "testing room" is on our second floor and once the donor is in the room I close the door and tell them what someone getting tested experiences. Many times the donor gets tears in their eyes. It is almost impossible to not get even more connected to our mission after a visit to the testing room.

Our food bank is in our basement and it is so important to show off to donors so they have a better idea of how important our food bank is.

If you are one who is uncomfortable meeting face to face or making a donation ask face to face, don't let that stop you! They are many ways to go about this that will make the experience better for you, and I promise that once you've done this once it almost becomes addictive! Include staff, and if possible, include a client.

The end result is that you will begin to build a lifelong relationship with your donor and they will become even more committed to your mission after a face to face meeting with you.

It works. I really does!

Consider what you have read here and create a list of five to ten names of people you can meet with. Part II will have a checklist and some tidbits that have really helped me in the past.

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