Today’s question comes from John, who asks:
I know I’m supposed to get out of the office and be out meeting with donors, but I am overwhelmed with paperwork and can never seem to break away. Do you have any suggestions?
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Great question, John.
Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of thinking and research about major gifts and how they’re raised — or not raised, as is sometimes the case.
Some of the concerns development directors have are related to time management, which is probably part of the issue.
Many Fundraisers have Bad Habits
But the other problem is that many fundraisers have bad work habits — through no fault of their own, mind you. Habits are things we do automatically, almost without thinking about them.
This is such an important question that I developed a keynote speech called: Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising: Strategies to Help You Survive and Thrive.
So to answer your question, let’s discuss what you can do if getting stuck at your desk and not getting out and meeting with donors is one of your bad habits.
Working in Your Office is a Bad Habit
Now, I realize it might sound strange to call working hard in your office a bad habit, but it is. Once you make getting out and meeting with donors a priority, that will become your habit.
The bottom line is that you probably need to interact more with donors in general — both over the phone and in person.
So, here is one suggestion for building betters work habits.
Good Habit: Make 3 Calls per day to Donors
I have a coaching client that I’ve been working with — Alan, who works at the Food Pantry. I suggested he make three calls to donors per day, but he wasn’t quite sure what he would call them about.
So we came up with a short list of three things he could call almost any prospective donor, small or large, to discuss. Depending on the donor, he would call to:
- Get a meeting with the prospective donor
- Ask his volunteers and lower level donors to join a monthly giving club
- Say “thank you” or invite them on a tour
Having concrete things to call about helped Alan focus on making three calls per day, which also helped him get out of the office more.
End Result: More Contact with Donors
Sometimes the result of the calls will be a meeting with a donor and force you out of the office and away from your desk. But, at a minimum you will have more contact with your donors, which is a great fundraising habit.
I hope that answers you question, John.
How often do you talk to donors? Daily? Weekly? Tell me about your habits in the comments.