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Fundraising Tip: In-person Meetings

There is nothing like meeting donors, supporters, and colleagues face to face.

I am thinking about fundraising this morning as I’m meeting a donor today for breakfast at one of my all-time favorite spots in Los Angeles, HomeGirl Cafe.

As I sit waiting for them, my head fills with memories of so many coffees, breakfasts, and lunches I’ve shared here with donors and colleagues in the eight and a half years I have lived here.

This all brings me to the reminder that there is nothing like having a face to face meeting with someone you are in relationship with, or trying to build a relationship with.

Although Homegirl Cafe is a part of a nonprofit themselves (Homeboy Industries), I love meeting donors here for a meal. What typically happens is the donor agrees to whatever type of donation I ask for, while also leaving a donation for Homeboy through their payment of the meal tab. Homeboy was smart enough to ask for a donation on the bill, although for some reason they no longer do this.

Many donors don’t want to, or feel the need to, meet in regard to their giving and are happy with making their annual donation (or more!) with just a conversation or two throughout the year, if that.

And just as many will take you up on an invitation to meet.

As wonderful of an opportunity as meeting in-person is for you, your organization, and those you serve, it is especially nice for your donor, who knows you are part of the way they help make the world a better place.

I realize you may think you have no time capacity for in-person meetings. I recommend making them part of your top priorities. If you’re currently not doing this on a regualr basis, start out slowly. Maybe one a week.

Email a few donors that you already know and see if they would like to meet. With someone I have never met in person before, I suggest coffee or lunch. That gives them them the chance to decide how much time they want to give to me for the meeting.

Start calendaring time to reach out to donors with invitations, along with time for the actual meetings.

Before the meeting, check in with program team members to get updated information on mission.

During the meeting, share that information. Don’t talk too much. Make sure you give the donor plenty of opportunties to share about them, and about their why.

When you’re back in the office, add any notes to your database, and send a quick thank you. Email is fine.

Once you begin doing this, you won’t want to stop. Even for the most introverted fundraisers, face to face meetings with donors can be helpful and wonderful.

I also want to make sure you’re planning these same types of meetings with professional colleagues. It’s important to build relationships with others in nonprofit fundraising, people who can relate to your joys and struggles.

Good luck! And have fun!

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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