People and vendors in our sector talk a lot about identifying donors, but getting them ready to meet with you is a different story.
The problem is that most donors simply aren’t ready to talk to you yet.
This post was inspired by a horrible meeting.
Last week, I met with the Vice President of University Relations at one of the biggest schools in the country. During our chat, I told her I believed that most major gifts fundraising operational leaders tell their gift officers to move their relationships with potential donors forward too quickly. They are supplied with with ‘identified’ major and planned gift prospect leads and essentially told, ‘Go get ’em!”
Instead, I recommended a warming up period. I explained that these folks need to be cultivated (warmed-up) before outreach because, while they might trust your institution or organization, their trust in an individual gift officer will be almost entirely absent at first. Trust in an individual fundraiser must be earned and built over time.
I continued saying, “Just because a gift officer works for a particular cause doesn’t mean that they’ve earned the right to engage with a prospect more deeply. And earning that right takes time and is based on what the prospect feels the gift officer can do for them. It’s all about what value the prospect perceives the gift officer can provide to them.”
My statements were met with a grimace and the following response: “That’s not what we train fundraisers to do. We train them to reach out to prospects as soon as they’re identified.”
“This meeting isn’t gonna’ go well,” I thought to myself silently.
Then she said, “You know… I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”
“Hmm. Just because you’ve been doing things for decades doesn’t mean you’re doing them correctly,” I mused (again silently).
I wondered if she had ever donated a significant amount of money because, in my experience, as a donor, when fundraisers move too fast they make supporters very uncomfortable. No one likes receiving cold calls (and no one enjoys making them).
You can avoid discomfort on both sides if you segment your data as follows:
Voila! Highly-qualified outreach-ready leads.
In the private sector they are called ‘sales-ready leads‘. Of course, fundraisers are not salespeople. So for our sector I like to call them ‘outreach-ready leads’. These are preliminarily qualified ‘outreach-ready’ leads that have been nurtured and cultivated properly over time so, when you reach out to them, they don’t feel like they’re being attacked. In other words, they’re ‘ready’ to accept your outreach.
Plus, in most cases they even welcome it and thank you for finally contacting them.
If you don’t have preliminarily qualified, outreach-ready major and legacy giving leads, maybe it’s time for you to talk to us. It’s easy to do so. Just go here.
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