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My #1 Secret to Raising Major Gifts

Do you ever feel like you are stuck in the office?

All my fundraising friends tell me they “don’t have time” to get out there and visit donors.

What's YOUR biggest obstacle to closing major gifts?

What’s YOUR biggest obstacle to closing major gifts?

The problem is – you’re not going to raise any money in your office.

You and I both know that you’ve just got to get in front of donors.

I bet that this is the missing ingredient in implementing your major gift  plan.

The #1 Secret of Raising Lots of Money?

Face Time With Donors

The problem (or opportunity) is that there’s no substitute for face-to-face customer/donor contact.

How else can you forge a deep relationship? How else can you use your radar to learn more about the donor’s interests and inclinations?

And if you consider the Lifetime Value of a major donor to your organization – it might be easier to justify getting out there and visiting with them.

Why is it so hard to be out of the office?

Immediate priorities keep pulling at you. And they take you pretty much nowhere.

Yes, you’re working on your direct mail program, writing thank you letters, solving problems, setting up your next event, even reading this blog – but none of this will raise the really big money you need.

The Data: It Really DOES Pay to Schmooze

Red = socializing before the deal
Blue = no socializing

There was a great article in the Neuromarketing blog a while back:  ”It Really Does Pay to Schmooze.”

They cited an experiment that tested the difference between establishing a personal connection and not establishing it.

They found that when students socialized before doing business, the odds were far greater that they would strike a successful “win-win” deal.

Take a look at this chart – you can see that establishing a social connection with your customer/donor makes all the difference in your ultimate success.

They said: ‘Good, old-fashioned face time can have a significant impact on trust and behavior.”

Here’s Your Plan for Getting Out of the Office:

1. Set a goal for each month.

Set the number of visits you plan to make each month.  Is it 12, 8 20?  (If you are not a CEO, then you should make a minimum of 12 I think.)

You will never get ANYWHERE without this goal.

2. Enlist internal support.

Tell all your co-workers about your goal and ask them to push you out of the office.

You’ve got to have that support from your office.

Sometimes non-fundraising staff will raise their eyebrows about our need to get out of the office.  I used to sense subtle disapproval from some co-workers when I was a staffer.

So be sure everyone knows what your job is and why it’s important to be out there.

3. Make it a big deal.

Talk about your visits, and your goal.

Get your CEO behind you. Get your board behind you.

Tell everybody that you are trying to make a certain number of visits each month.  Ask for their help.

Who needs a face-to-face meeting? What wonderful donor needs to be thanked in person? Who has tons of potential and needs more cultivation?

Don’t even let hurricanes stop you!

4. Just do it.

Draw a line in the sand and make a personal commitment.

I send out my Friday newsletter come hell or high water. (Or hurricanes!) I just do it.

No matter what’s going on in my life or business, this newsletter comes out.

And it has made all the difference in the world- to my thinking – to my marketing – to my professional development.

So just think what you could accomplish if you had a lot of major prospects under cultivation.

How much more money could you raise?

Bottom line:

Here’s your motto: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

You can do it! Just draw a line in the sand and make the commitment.

The dollars will follow!

Question to you:

How often are you out of the office?  How many calls do you try to make each month?

Leave me a comment and let me know -

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  • Simona Biancu – ENGAGEDin

    Great advices, Gail! I found lots of everyday situation and hints to manage things in a different way. I agree with when you write “Talk about your visits, and your goal.
    Get your CEO behind you. Get your board behind you”. I have noticed that this approach is quite difficult, especially for young fundraisers, and it certain is among the key points which deserves a constant and specific focus to pay attention on.

    It is absolutely true the need of planning the fundraisers’ monthly personal visits: I have to face this issue each time I work on a major gifts campaign. I have ever thought it is quite difficult, if you are a CEO or a director, having a clear idea about the need of scheduling in a very precise way your agenda. But – as you wrote – without a correct plan your major donors plan will have a very low chances to succeed.

  • Lindsey

    I’m new to this fundraising world, and I love your newsletters – they are very helpful in my learning. I’d love to take your advice and get out to meet with donors, but I don’t know how to set up a meeting without it seeming like a big money grab. Suggestions?

  • gailperry

    Hi Lindsey! Try some of these strategies: The Advice Visit: http://www.gailperry.com/2013/06/the-advice-visit-best-way-to-open-door-to-a-major-gift-prospect/

    or this one: “How to Secure the Face to Face Visit”

    http://www.gailperry.com/2011/10/how-to-secure-the-face-to-face-visit/

  • gailperry

    thanks Simona! It’s so important to get everybody behind you on this and I think a lot of people forget about this important step to secure moral support.

    Gail