As fundraisers, we know we are most effective at our job when we’re talking to prospects one-on-one.

Isn’t it amazing how seldom we do it?

I’ve been doing this for years but I’m still amazed at how easily we get caught up in writing case statements, designing fundraising letters, refining development strategies…all things we can do from our desk. So we keep pushing “visit so-and-so” off our list. Either we convince ourselves that the other things are more pressing. Or we’re in a slump and are actually afraid to make calls so are looking for ways to put them off!

Social media assists in fundraising but doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings

To further complicate things, we have great having social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. These do help us interact with donors and prospects. But social media only adds to our face-to-face fundraising efforts, it doesn’t replace them.

Here’s a concept that may help us get back out the door: rounding on your donors.

Rounding for outcomes

The hospital I work for uses alot of the teaching of Quint Studer. One of his “must haves” for strong hospitals is a practice called “rounding.” In this case, managers do rounds on their employees like physicians do rounds on their patients. For Studer, rounding involves talking with employes, making sure they have the tools they need to do their job and publically recognizing exemplary behavior.

One of the keys to do rounding successfully is doing it regularly. Put it on your calendar each week. (Isn’t it great that tools like Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar make it very easy to set up a recurring appointment?)

Visiting donors in their natural habitat

The concept is powerful. And easily translates to fundraising. Rounding on donors could be as formal as setting up fixed appointments or as simple as frequenting their businesses. (Shouldn’t we be buying locally anyway?)

I like to think of rounding as visiting donors in their “natural habitat.” I’m always amazed at how much more we can pick up when we see people doing what they do best. And people seem more primed for giving a “real” opinion when they’re in their own space. While I know it’s important to get people to come to us, now is a great time for us to go to people.

People seem to have more time

If you have been rounding in the last few months, have you noticed that people seem to have more time than they used to? Even when I make appointments, people seem comfortable talking way past the time they committed to. People are telling me they’re trying to give more time between appointments just in case they have the opportunity to stay longer.

As I’ve been saying for years, one of the most important things about fundraising in a recession is to keep doing the basics. Face-to-face visits are one of those basics. This is a very important way we build relationships. Please remember, these visits don’t need to be solely “asks.” Cultivation visits and stewardship visits are just as important.

So, how many visits will you decide to make this week?

More importantly, what time (or times) are you going to block out in your calendar to do these visits each week?

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