I recently just set up an appointment completely through Facebook messenger. I met the person through Rotary, connected via social media, called for an appointment and the response came via FB messenger. A new experience for me.
I begin with this story to illustrate that the world is changing and we all need to adapt. Through my years in sales and fundraising, it was all about the personal contact. The paradigm of personal contact has expanded immensely. For a twenty-something, that would mean a multiple exchange via text or IM. To me, a forty-something, it means a conversation that gets beyond the superficial niceties and lasts longer than 10 minutes.
In major gifts fundraising, or outside sales it is imperative to know thy donor. This means knowing an individual’s successes, their likes and dislikes amongst other things. Traditionally this happened through a series of engagements where you learned about the person. The goal was always to set another meeting. When I started, this information was kept in some combination of an index file and planner. Then CRM’s came into place, and the cloud made all this information portable. That is still a current scenario, but social media has made the need to “discover information” less direct and intrusive. Most of what you need to “connect” with someone is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or some other “app”. This still does not change the things that define what we, as professionals, do. Just like when email was added to direct mail, or texting was added to cell phones, we now have many more tools in our box.
What is still paramount and necessary? Cultivation is working with a prospective donor or a current donor to build value and understand the impact of your organization. Cultivation can be done through sharing stories on line, providing opportunities to engage with the mission of your organization, or through a conversation.
Stewardship is working with a current significant donor to help them understand their role in your organization and the impact of their gift. As a professional, you should understand how this donor chooses to interact with you and the organization (notice I did not say how you choose to interact with the donor). Most likely, interactions involve multiple tools available.
A touch is an intentional interaction with a donor or prospect. Just like seeing someone at a board meeting or networking event is not a qualified touch, neither is liking a post or re-tweeting a story. If you gain information during an interaction that allows progress in the relationship with you or the organization, such as news of an illness or a child’s engagement, it can be a qualified touch.
In addition to social media, tools like Google Alerts assist in staying informed and provide talking points. You can use these to watch for key information about specific donors, or trends in your industry. Information will be delivered to your inbox only when information is added to the web. All you most do is choose the right key words, like “Bob Smith, Acme Corp” or “House Fire, Gloucester”. This is the evolution of reading the daily newspaper.
There are a myriad of tools available for those of us focused on fundraising. Like any personal toolbox, we have our favorites; just don’t ignore the newer versions or other timesaving tools that are may require learning and practice. To do so may be the same as ignoring an entire group of potential supporters.
Know thy donor. Develop solutions. Drive results.