no u-turn“When will we get back to normal again?”
This is what I’m hearing from many people as we enter the fifth week of this intense crisis in the US.
Richard and I have been talking daily over the last month, and we’re pondering: what are we learning from all this? what has to shift in our thinking? and what does our industry need let go of to start something new?
What we and the entire Veritus team have again realized is that building real, authentic relationships with donors and valuing meaningful connections has been, and will continue to be in the future, the key for a non-profit’s mission to thrive and expand.
We’re seeing this play out right now in the conversations that mid, major and planned giving officers are having every day with their donors. These are not just awkward, “Hey, hope you are well, let me tell you what’s happening at our non-profit” conversations.
They are deep conversations. They’re personal and emotional, and donors are revealing why they are passionate about the mission. Donors are asking the fundraisers we work with how they can help, and they’re giving in unprecedented ways.
All of this has been done on the phone, or via email, text and video calls. Obviously, not one was face to face, or at some event.
All of these conversations are happening because fundraisers have been developing relationships with donors through meaningful connections for quite some time.
This is what Richard and I and our Veritus team hope our industry will finally pivot to: an understanding that all of this fundraising stuff is about building authentic relationships by creating meaningful connections with donors, and it’s about being the bridge that bring together the donor and their desire to change the world and your mission that is doing just that.
No longer should we worry about how many face-to-face visits need to be completed in a month, or how many phone calls, etc. Let’s move away from that transactional mindset to one of transformation.
Instead, we should just really focus on these three markers:

  1. Are you working your plan? If you have a strategic plan for every donor in your portfolio, it’s easy to know if you’re working that plan when you’re meeting with your manager frequently.
  2. Are you making meaningful connections? Your individual strategic plan should be centered around making meaningful connections that thank, report back on impact, and move the relationship with a donor to a deeper place.
  3. Are you making your monthly revenue goals? Your individual strategic plan has a revenue goal for every donor that is cash-flowed. This allows you and your manager to know how you are performing, and it allows for proactive conversations with your manager if plans change.

These three metrics are really the only measurement you need to ensure that you’re successful. And honestly, if you do #1 right, by creating a solid plan and working it well, the other two take care of themselves.
That’s right. At Veritus, what we’ve found over and over again is that if you work your plan, you will be successful in mid, major and planned giving. If you think about it, all you can control as a major gift officer is that you work the plan you’ve set out… that’s it! That’s all you can control. That’s what will help you form authentic relationships with your donors.
When this crisis eases, let’s not go back to trying to meet a monthly metric, or litter our year with a bunch of events that never let us fully know our donors. (Tweet it!) Let’s make those meaningful connections that deepen our relationships with donors instead. Let’s change that old paradigm once and for all.