Don’t ask donors for major campaign gifts until you’ve drawn them close to your organization. People don’t give because they have money — they give because they’re committed to your mission and they believe in what you’re trying to accomplish.
So, it stands to reason that you should never ask anyone for a big gift until they know your mission, understand what you’re up to and feel engaged in your plans.
3 Ways to Draw Capital Campaign Donors Closer
Here are three ways to draw your donors closer. Use them all — sometimes with the same donors!
- One-on-One Meetings
- Small Group Meetings
- Insider Treatment
In this post, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of the first item on the list above — one-on-one “advice visit” meetings.
Advice Visits: One-on-One Meetings to Engage Donors
Ever hear the often-repeated advice…?
“Want money? Ask for advice. Want advice? Ask for money.”
Turns out, that’s largely true! When you ask people for advice, you engage them in thinking about your project. And once they are engaged, they will be much more likely to give you money.
Most advice visits have three goals…
Goal #1: Find out what’s important to the donor — their hot buttons.
The more you know about your donors and the better you understand what’s important to them, the more likely you’ll be to build a real relationship with them. Most people are quite happy to tell you about themselves if you are genuinely curious. And the more you know, the better.
Goal #2: Learn where they stand on your issues and project.
If you have the courage to ask your donors what they think about your mission, your organization and your project, they’ll be likely to tell you. But you’ve got to ask what they really think.
Goal #3: Leave with a way to follow up.
Building a relationship isn’t a one-time event. You build real relationships over time. So, you should leave every advice visit with a reason to get back in touch.
You might offer to send additional information or to schedule a meeting with someone else from your organization or to send them something you’d like them to review.
Never worry if a donor asks you a question you don’t know the answer to — it’s a great opportunity to get back in touch with them with the answer.
Questions to Ask at Advice Visit Donor Meetings
Here are some of my favorite advice visit questions:
- What do you think we should do about…?
- How do you think we can make this happen?
- Who do you think should be involved in this project?
Notice that all of these questions are open-ended. Start a question with the words:
When you start a question with one of these three words, you will get a more fully developed response than just yes or no.
Preparing for an Advice Visit Meeting with a Key Donor
Before you go in for an advice visit, learn as much as you can about the person you are going to see. In particular, be sure you know what kind of advice they are qualified to give you.
Feel out their experience and expertise and ask them for advice that will call on that. Asking people for advice they have no ability to give will sour your meeting quickly.
- You might ask donors about their perspective. Everyone is qualified to offer their own perspective.
- You might ask them how to solve a problem that is related to their field of interest or profession.
- And you can always ask for feedback on various aspects of your campaign like a draft of your case for support, potential steering committee members, or fundraising strategies.
Four Cardinal Rules for Advice Visits
Finally, here are four cardinal rules to keep in mind during your advice visits.
- Don’t bore your donors.
- Keep the meetings short — 30-minute meetings are often good.
- Listen more than you talk. If you really do that, you won’t bore them (see #1).
- Follow up promptly.
What sort of advice might you ask your donor for on your next advice visit? Leave a comment below and let us know.