By Jesse A. Winters
Personal visits are a time-honored method of fundraising, and one that donors appreciate. It is a time to discuss the campaign that is happening and ask any questions about the project(s) so that a prospective donor can be fully informed. It is a purposeful method that shows thought and care behind the project and builds relationships.
On a recent campaign, one of the church leaders came to a meeting wearing a shirt with the British World War II slogan, “Keep Calm & Carry On.” It seemed appropriate for the meeting as we discussed different aspects of the campaign.
One particular person in that meeting was bringing up different ways in which she had seen other organizations do fundraising via mail, email, and social media. She wanted to rely on passive fundraising rather than the active and purposeful method that we had been using to reach out to prospective donors up to that point. As we discussed some of her ideas, another volunteer (the church leader wearing the “Keep Calm & Carry On” t-shirt, in fact) spoke up and said, “Why would we do that? We’ve been so successful talking to each family in person. More importantly, every family that I’ve talked has told me that they appreciate the personal attention.”
For many people it is very tempting to try to reinvent the fundraising process halfway through the campaign to make it “easier” while in fact making it harder and less successful. Individual visits seem difficult to many people, but once they are trained on how to do a visit and begin to make visits, they realize how comfortable and effective a personal visit truly is. At a campaign earlier this year, a church member told me, “I thought these personal visits were going to be so difficult, but as I reached out to people and had these conversations, they were so easy! I’ve been able to strengthen the relationships that I have with people, and even make new ones. I can see all of these newly strengthened relationships throughout the whole congregation. Everyone is closer to each other!”
In short, I’ll leave you with this thought: “Keep Calm & Do Personal Visits.”