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:
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.
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