Travel used to be a core tenet of fundraising, so much so that in-person visits were a proxy for relationships - the traditional wisdom is that asking people for money should always take place in person. Visits could have been an easy way to check the box saying that a donor had been engaged. But these visits may not have moved the needle as much as fundraisers once thought. An initial connection may be more difficult when separated by a screen, but when the engagement does happen, it can result in a deeper and more honest bond, which leads to increased giving.
Abby Falik, Founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, documents the changing nature of donor-fundraiser interactions. At work, it’s easy to put on a tie, comb your hair, and present a version of yourself separated from the chaos and randomness of life. But home offices and Zoom windows don’t provide that luxury. Separated by a screen, and in many cases thousands of miles, Falik actually found a closer connection with a pixelated and limited window into her donors’ lives. Kids running around, dogs barking, and less-than-ideal lighting weren’t distractions - they were simply life. This vulnerability actually helped her connect better than in-person, where certain “faults” can be hidden from view.
This vulnerability also allowed Abby to be more honest about her organization’s plans. The COVID pandemic exposed that even the best plans can be discarded at a whim because what truly matters is a strong mission and the determination to find solutions. “People weren’t funding a plan or a promise,” Falik writes. “They were investing in potential and possibility.” When Mackenzie Scott donated several billion dollars in unrestricted gifts, she wasn’t investing in specific plans. She was investing in the organization’s potential to solve some of the most pressing racial and human services concerns. While using this messaging during an in-person meeting a year ago may have been vague, it resonates with donors when there is a deeper connection than just dollars and cents.
“People weren’t funding a plan or a promise. They were investing in potential and possibility.”
Given that last year’s plans and strategies have to be shelved for the time being, fundraisers must continue to find new ways to communicate and engage with donors. An email, phone call, or text message has gone from a vehicle for setting up a meeting to a meaningful touchpoint itself. In-person meetings may end up being even more meaningful when they can happen again because the connection has already been catalyzed remotely. Visits won’t just be a checked box, but an actual purposeful interaction.
In today’s digital age, fundraisers aren’t asking “when can I meet my donors in person again?” They’re examining how they can build better relationships through as many channels as possible to bolster the connection in new and innovative ways.
See how you can personally reach more of your donors in a meaningful way. Talk to a Gravyty specialist today and learn how AI can enable your fundraisers to develop deeper relationships with more donors.