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Providing Value with Donor Visits

If you are new to fundraising or that’s something that makes you break out in hives and increases your blood pressure, you’re not alone. I’ve been there.


It doesn’t have to be that way.


Fundraising can be anxiety inducing. How do I get that first meeting with a donor? What do I say when they agree to meet? What if they ask questions I can’t answer? Any of those sound like you? Again, you’re not alone.


Shaking hands with words on them.

You provide value with donor visits and that develops trust. You’re building the bridge between your organization and the donor.


According to’s Donor Trust Report, “…69.6% of respondents rating the importance of trusting a charity before giving as 9 or 10 (Essential) on a 10-point scale, and only 20% of respondents saying they highly trust charities.”


This “trust bridge” needs some serious repairs. How do you go about that? By providing value with donor visits.

Value of Donor Calls:

  • Recognition: your call/visit shows them you know who they are by acknowledging their gift to your organization.

  • Gratitude: your call/visit tells the donor you care that they supported your organization.

  • Curiosity: your call/visit to learn why they made their first/recurring gift tells the donor you are interested in them.

  • Accountability: your call/visit informs the donor how their support was used at your nonprofit.


Approaches to donor visits that provide value.

1st Time Donors

I love picking up the phone and calling a first-time donor to thank them for their gift. Chances are they won’t expect it and will appreciate your call. I’ve never had a donor be mad at me for calling to thank them. Ever!


A thank you call is a great opportunity to find out what prompted them to make their first gift to your organization. People are happy to share why they gave.


I asked that question, at a previous organization where I worked, and learned that someone had recently moved to the area from out of state and asked their neighbor about nonprofits to support. That neighbor said our organization was “the best” at providing clients with temporary housing and holding them accountable to learn budgeting skills so they were better prepared when back out on their own.


I wouldn’t have discovered this had I not picked up the phone to thank that first time donor. This also provided me an opportunity to call that “neighbor” and thank them for raising awareness about the organization.

Major Donors

I typically approach these donors via email first.

My email includes:

  • Thanking…them for their support.

  • Inviting…them to join me for coffee.

  • Sharing…the purpose of the meeting: provide an update on how their gift was used, share some organization updates, answer questions, etc.

  • Thanking…them, again, for their support and time.

Don’t be surprised if you need to send a follow up email. People are busy. I will send a follow up email a week later. 80% of the time I get a response and it’s not always “yes”. If they don’t have time to meet, they are grateful for the invitation. I will follow up that I’m happy to provide an update via phone if more convenient.

When you get that meeting be prepared:

  • Thank them upfront for their support.

  • Bring your latest annual report/organization brochure.

  • Have a success story or two to share.

  • Ask them what questions they have. (It’s ok if you don’t have an answer. Just let them know you’ll get back to them ASAP and make sure you do!)

  • Listen! Listen! Listen!

  • Thank them, again for their time and support.


Be sure to record the relevant information from your conversation in your CRM or spreadsheet the same day when your memory is fresh. So many nonprofits don’t do that and a week later you’ve already forgotten the conversation. If you leave the organization, then that information is there for the next person to learn from prior to their meeting with the donor.


Be ready to answer your donor’s question, “What’s your greatest challenge?” or “How can I be more helpful?”

The first time I was asked that question on a donor visit I was caught off guard and rambled (that memory is etched in my brain!). That was the LAST time I was unprepared for that question.


One of my “go to” answers for “How can I be more helpful?”, besides money, is asking the donor to introduce me to five people who should know about the organization. This is a great way to expand awareness of your mission and increase your volunteer base, supporters and Ambassadors.

A broken bridge in the sky.

Remember, your donor calls and visits show them the value of their support.

More importantly you are strengthening that bridge to trust.


Check out two other blogs on trust building: Stuck Like Glue! and Get on the Love Bus!


If Dandelion Consulting can help you build a stewardship plan or with your donor outreach campaign, then let’s talk.

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