3 big reasons why nobody talks about the single most important fundraising tactic on earth.

MarketSmart characters
MarketSmart lightbulb icon

Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

Let’s jump right in….  The single most important fundraising tactic on earth is appointment setting. There! I said it!

Don’t believe me? The late Jerold Panas agrees with me. In is top-selling book Mega Gifts, he pointed out, “It is a plain fact of fundraising that it’s often far more difficult to get an appointment than the gift.” He continued by saying, “Getting the appointment is 85 percent of getting the gift.”

Plus, remember, we’re talking about major gifts and legacy gifts here and, if you’re like most organizations, that’s where around 90% of your revenue comes from. So that’s where you should be focused. But that focus will run into a dead-end if you can’t land the meeting.

Agree? I bet you do! But, sadly, hardly anyone ever talks about appointment-setting in the sector.

I’ve never seen a conference syllabus include a discussion on the topic. No webinars either. No books too. But if you want to learn about how to write grants or send out more junk mail, you’ll find plenty of that everywhere you look.

So why isn’t anyone talking about best practices for setting up meetings with major donor prospects and legacy donor prospects? I think there are 3 big reasons:

  1. Void. Hardly anyone really knows how to do it well. I believe that’s because hardly anyone teaches fundraisers how to do it.
  2. Vicious cycle. Since the educational void exists, the result is a vicious cycle where people in the sector ignore the topic, like an elephant in a room.
  3. Temperament. Many people in the sector are simply not cut-out for the role. They fear embarrassment or failure. They don’t see the calls as offers and opportunities served up for donors. Instead, they see them as interruptions and annoyances. This is partly because they haven’t been taught properly. But many, no matter how well they are educated, will still cringe as they imagine themselves making calls to people they do not know well.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be talking a lot about appointment-setting. 

If you’ve heard my story (which you can read in my book), you might remember that I first got into professional sales at the age of 14. Back then I learned that the only way to sell anything of serious value was to get face-to-face with a prospect. So, I walked up and down the streets of my neighborhood knocking on doors and ringing bells asking anyone who opened their door if they wanted their car washed and waxed. That was my first business! By getting face-to-face, my batting average was pretty good.

I later sold advertising space by walking into retail stores at strip malls and asking for the owner or manager. My next gig was at an ad agency (Pallace Inc.) that focused on direct mail marketing for nonprofits in the D.C. region. We had one computer in the office that everyone shared to type and print out personal letters. My job was to generate new business. In order to get face-to-face with prospects downtown, I made cold calls to set appointments for meetings using the telephone. I figure I made about 30,000 cold calls in those days and I kept track of my “moves” with four-by-six-inch index cards and a pen. There was no internet and no email. That was back in 1994.

You’ll get to watch me fail— and succeed as I set appointments with major donors.

Next month I’ll be helping one of my beloved causes. I won’t get into that too much here. For now, I’ll just say that I’ll be actually using my own software to qualify and prioritize major and legacy donor prospects. Then, I’ll call people to engage them and eventually ask them to meet with the Executive Director of the Foundation whom I’ll be helping. I’ll try to record the calls and, of course, I’ll tell you about my successes (and failures).

Stay tuned for more on this.


Related Posts:

>>Cold calling major donors to arrange appointments doesn’t work – but this method does
>>Here’s a job description for a major gift or legacy gift lead outreach associate

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

Subscribe to our blog today and get actionable fundraising ideas delivered straight to your inbox!