Take Control of Your Calendar! – 3 Tips to Prioritize Donor Meetings

Are you one of the many fundraisers who resolved in the New Year to spend more time connecting with donors face-to-face? If you find yourself struggling a bit, it’s not unusual. University of Scranton research suggests that only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are successful.

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But it’s not too late to get back on track! Try these three simple—yet effective—tips for ensuring you spend more time this year on one of the most important aspects of your job – meeting with donors. You can also read my blog post on how to set yourself up for donor-centered success in the New Year.

TIP 1 - Strategic Scheduling

Step back for a minute and examine your calendar. Are you scheduling meetings willy-nilly so you’re constantly running back and forth between internal and external commitments? To boost your efficiency, try blocking off regular chunks of time each week for external donor meetings.

Reserve these blocks of time in the same pattern every week (e.g., every Tuesday or Friday morning) and then fill those slots with donor meetings.

One development team I know decided that all front-line fundraisers should be out of the office all day every Friday doing donor visits. A bit of friendly peer pressure keeps this system running. If a fundraiser finds himself sitting at his desk on a Friday, he feels sheepish for not contacting enough donors to fill his day.

TIP 2 – Getting  to “Yes”  

Of course blocking time on your calendar is the easy part. Next, you need to get some meetings. Don’t limit yourself to donors of any particular type – face time is valuable with prospects, current donors, lapsed donors – anyone!

Start by using your donor’s preferred method of communication (if you have this info). Next, rather than ping-ponging back and forth by email, phone or text to find a meeting time, try this approach: “I’ll be downtown near your office on the morning of February 6 – do you have time for a short meeting around 10:00 or 11:00?” Of course, offer to meet in a location that is both convenient and comfortable for the donor. 

TIP 3 – Brief Can Be Best

You don’t need to spend a full hour with a donor to have a meaningful interaction. It’s easier to get 20 or 30 minutes of your donor’s precious time. As a bonus, a shorter meeting time will force you to plan well for your time together. If you don’t know how to engage your donor, try asking "What are your impressions of…?" This is a great donor-centered question as suggested by Gail Perry. You can read how Gail likes to use this question here. Give it a try!

What other creative strategies do you use to manage your calendar? To set meetings? To talk with donors?

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