Siobhan Aspinall, CFRE
Senior Manager, Major Gifts, Junior Achievement of British Columbia
At Congress this year, I’m going to talk about involving non-fundraising staff in donor stewardship. You’d be crazy not to! So let’s think about who to take on that next donor visit and how to make them successful.
In the past, I was guilty of defaulting to the chiefs. I’d automatically bring along a board member, maybe even the chair or my CEO.
But if donor stewardship is about showing people the impact of their gift, then why not go straight to the source and bring along a person who actually delivers your programs? They might not be as polished as the CEO, but I bet they’ll be more interesting – mainly because they are so much closer to the work.
Don’t get me wrong – I know this approach can backfire. There’s maybe a very good reason that we don’t often invite the programs team along for sensitive visits as you can’t possibly prep them for every question or comment that might come up. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try. Start with these tips to set up your colleague for success on a donor visit:
- Book your program colleague for an informal briefing a couple
of days before the donor meeting.
- Tell them about the donor – how much they’ve given, what their interests are, and above all, what kind of personality they have.
- Emphasize more than once that the visit is informal and that we’re not going to ask for money.
- Do a bit of a role play. The fundraiser should start, as she has the relationship. Then let the donor talk, then cue up the program person.
- Have a signal for your colleague to let them know when they’ve said enough on a given topic. Let them know this is
necessary because it is SO important to let the donor talk too. (I had a system with one scientist where I’d put my pen down on the table. He stopped so abruptly the first time we did it, it was like someone had punched him in the neck. We improved over time!)
- Figure out a “leave.” What’s the follow up we will offer when we close the meeting? An advance look at a pending report? A promise to send along an event invitation? Make sure it’s never just “goodbye.”
- Write a thank you for your program colleague to send from her email address (with you cc’ed) encouraging the donor to get in touch directly with any questions or comments. This creates a nice value add where you’re giving your best supporters exclusive access to the change-makers of the organization.
And don’t forget to tell your colleagues why this is so important. At the end of it all, we are looking to secure more funds for their work!
Siobhan has been fundraising for over 15 years for organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and United Way. She is currently the Senior Manager of Development at Junior Achievement working primarily in grant-writing and major gifts. She teaches fundraising courses at BCIT, consults, and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in from UBC and an Associate Certificate in Fundraising Management from BCIT. She writes for her fundraising blog at siobhanaspinall.com and surfs in Tofino. Siobhan will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.