By Drew Fox Jordan • August 2, 2021

    On The Road Again? The New Reality of Fundraiser Travel

    For gift officers, travel hasn’t looked the same over the last year and a half. Some road warriors have had the chance to dust off the luggage recently while others continue to remain grounded. Regardless of where you stand, this reality is most likely true: travel as an element of your fundraising strategy has shifted for the foreseeable future.

    On The Road Again? The New Reality of Fundraiser Travel

    Consider where we were just a few months ago as outlined in the State of AI in Advancement Report. At the close of 2020, fundraiser travel was very much in flux as:

    • 85% of organizations had restricted or limited travel to ensure both staff and donors' safety and well-being
    • 81% no longer had events and face-to-face visits had been significantly affected, placing a major obstacle in the path of fundraisers

    Sure, we’ve seen some returns to normalcy recently. Yet, we’ve also come to recognize that such challenges may have permanently transformed the way organizations fundraise - the upsurge of virtual donor engagement and events, not to mention the rise of the digital gift officer role, serving as a sample of prominent reminders that change is most likely here to stay.

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    For fundraiser travel moving forward, whether you’re back on the road or employing a hybrid model, there are certain truths to accept to ensure this component of your strategy is optimized: 

    Destinations Need To Be Strategic

    It’s not as simple as packing a bag to go meet and greet with the usual donors or most promising prospects. While you may be eager to make up for that valuable in-person time you lost last year, you also can’t afford to embark on an itinerary that doesn’t drive home the results. 

    Is that anchor visit you’re building around going to yield the same outcomes it did in the past? Maybe the donor’s financial situation has changed or your organization’s giving priorities no longer align with theirs since you last met. For new donors who you cultivated digitally last year, do you truly know their potential as a future major gift prospect? Having the right strategy in place has never been more important to ensure you make the most of your time on the road. 

    Travel Planning Must Be Efficient

    With so much on your gift officers’ plates recently, you’ve come to appreciate the need for workforce efficiencies. As travel continues to come back into the fray, its planning – in addition to its execution – needs to be as productive and effective as possible too.

    Just think of all the steps needed to map out a trip, from figuring out your destination, dates you plan to travel, estimated travel radius, total portfolios you’d like to see, and more. It all adds up to time-consuming tasks and valuable time away from making meaningful contact with donors and prospects. Exploring new tools and strategies to enhance the travel planning experience is essential to alleviating this pain point for fundraisers so they can focus on what they do best.

    Outreach Has To Be Maximized

    There’s only so much time and so many donors you can meet per trip. Yet the need to develop relationships with personal attention at scale remains as important as ever. This is where employing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual engagement may continue to serve you well.

    During the last year, we saw gift officers get more creative than ever before. They used their regional donor lists to coordinate virtual visits, events, and even to power regional giving challenges. As we move forward, technology, in particular, can continue to aid your efforts in connecting with donors via a mix of digital and in-person options. Such solutions, like AI, can help to expand your outreach, further developing your pipelines while simultaneously maintaining high-quality touchpoints with prospects.

    Learn how AI can act as your personal travel assistant so you can make the most of your time on the road. See a Gravyty demo today:

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