Welcome back to the Major Gifts Challenge! If you’re unfamiliar with the Challenge, check out the introductory video here.
When distance enters a relationship you usually make this request, “Stay in touch.” It’s no different when cultivating relationships with potential major gift donors.
Frequently, donors live far from you, or spend half of the year away from your organization. These are your “out-of-town” or long distance donors. But distance doesn’t mean you can’t secure a major gift when you know how to “stay in touch.”
3 Ways to Cultivate Long Distance Donors
Engagement is the key. Distance can’t be an excuse to lose contact and not continue building your relationship. This still the heart of asking for major gifts.
There are three key strategies you can use.
1. Use technology to stay in touch.
Video chatting is fairly universal these days. Even most older donors know how to video chat, because they do so with their kids and grandkids.
Ask them what format they are most comfortable with, so they don’t need to worry about learning something new. If they use Facetime, use that. If they Skype, set up an account for yourself. Don’t force them to download something to Google chat or Zoom with you because that’s what you normally use. Make it as easy as possible for them.
2. Invite them to visit you.
Remind donors you would love to visit with them if they are ever in your area even 2 or 3 hours away. Let them know, 2 to 4 times per year, it would be your pleasure to visit with them.
And, go so far as offering them transportation (and a meal) to visit your facility or to show them how your organization is having a positive impact.
3. Travel to visit them.
If you plan on asking someone for $10,000 or more, the expense of an airline ticket and hotel stay is generally worth it. You probably wouldn’t want to invest that type of money for a smaller gift, unless you have several donors in the same geographic region.
Donors hate to think (and generally wouldn’t allow) you to come simply to visit them. You’ll need to let them know you’ll be in their area for other reasons (family, friends, other business) and you hope to see them when you’re there. Give them a few dates and time choices, and offer to meet them at their home or office, whenever it’s most convenient for them.
Once you have your “anchor” meeting scheduled, try to schedule meetings with other donors in the area.
Challenge Yourself Action Item
Step 1: Identify your long distance donors.
Identify those donors on your list who live out of town, as well as those who escape for the winter (or summer).
Step 2: Schedule a video chat.
Schedule a meeting via video chat. Use that meeting as you would any other in person meeting – to get to know them better and move toward a gift. Then try to find out if they will be in your area, or let them know you’ll be in theirs and try to set up another meeting. Use the same techniques for getting a first meeting with any major donor, as seen in a previous video.
Going Further with Major Gifts
Want even more tips and techniques to getting meetings with those hard-to-meet with donors? In my 7 week online course, Mastering Major Gifts, I provide specifics on how to connect with hard to meet donors. If you’re having trouble securing meetings, Mastering Major Gifts is what you need.
Act, Comment and Participate
Now it’s your turn to share your progress with the Major Gifts Challenge.
How do you handle out of town donors? What challenges and successes have you had in securing meetings with them?
Let me know about your experiences with out of town donors in the comments.