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There is No Money in Your Office

Many times, we in the fundraising profession find ourselves spending a lot of time behind our desks thinking about a myriad of development duties, working on strategic planning, fretting over upcoming special event details, and going to meetings—none of which is particularly helpful when it comes to raising dollars. Sometimes we forget that our number one job is to secure donations for our nonprofit. The reality is: "there is no money in your office".

We know that lasting relationships with donors are not cultivated through websites, e-mails or brochures. They are built in person, through one-on-one conversations and face-to-face interactions. Therefore, get out from behind your desk and find ways to bring people closer to your organization. Personally building and maintaining strong relationships with donors should occur outside of your office and be an intentional and integral part of your day to day development activity. Getting out of the office to visit in person results in donors who feel more connected to your organization, ultimately producing larger gifts for your nonprofit. The old adage, "People give to people", is still true and considerably more can happen when you are face-to-face. Plus, it's more fun than staring at those same four walls. Try the following tips to get out and meet potential donors:

  1. Spend an entire week outside your office. Meet potential donors in their natural environments and at their convenience. Major Gifts Officers do this all the time when they're traveling out of state. Do this in your own area for a week—thank people and provide organizational updates. Set up appointments in advance as if you were going to a meeting out of state and try to see 6-10 people in a day.
  2. Can't get an appointment? Try swinging by the office. If you can't get an appointment after several attempts, just stop by the constituent's place of business. Come bearing gifts, even if it's a coffee mug from your organization filled with candy, a bumper sticker or the latest and greatest tee or polo shirt. Plan on a short stand up visit unless you get invited to have a seat. If they are unavailable, leave the gift and your business card and follow up in a day or two with a phone conversation.
  3. Meet at the donor's home. This is ideal if you can confirm a time. If not, call the house or cell when you are nearby him/her. Let the person you want to see know that you'll be in the neighborhood for the next couple of hours. Don't show up at the home unannounced! Just dropping by the home is almost always poor form (unless it's your mom).
  4. Network with people who are already supporting you. Ask them if they can identify and introduce you to people that may have the ability and possible inclination to want to support your organization
  5. Try something different. Instead of meeting at the constituent's office, there are several great options, including: coffee, lunch, dinner, happy hour, sporting events, art openings, or a social gathering close to his/her home or office (preferably hosted by someone he/she knows or might want to meet). Find something you have in common. If you're a golfer, a hunter (animals or antiques) 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 closer to your organization.

As we all know, fundraising is based on relationships. The closer and stronger the relationship, the more significant the gift will be. Go on—get out of the office—be a great ambassador and fundraiser for your organization.

© 2018 The Compass Group, Inc.