planSeveral weeks ago, I was checking in with the executive director of one of our clients. This client came on board a little over a year ago. I asked her how it was going. She said, “Jeff, had we not adopted the Veritus Way and our MGOs hadn’t created a plan for all of their donors before the pandemic hit, it would have been utter chaos.”
She went on to say, “Today, while all of our MGOs are working from their homes and dealing with a new way of working, they know what they have to do. They have a plan. We’ve talked about this in our weekly team meetings. While there’s so much uncertainty, we can do one thing that IS certain… work our plan. It’s probably one of the best things we’ve ever done as an organization.”
Obviously, this was so good to hear – because Richard and I know the power of having a structure for major gifts and how it leads to success. But in times of great uncertainty, fear and chaos, having a plan is bringing comfort and a sense of control to every fundraiser that has one for the donors in their portfolio.
Now, some might say, “well even if I had a plan for every donor, those plans were blown up anyway with this pandemic, so why bother?”
The answer is that a plan gives you a road map. In the case of your portfolio, it’s a road map to deepen and develop authentic relationships through meaningful touches and solicitations. All good plans change depending on the circumstances, but the goal of continuing to develop those relationships doesn’t.
You may have had a plan to sit down face-to-face with a donor in March to discuss a project the donor was interested in contributing to. But because of the pandemic, that was no longer possible. Perhaps the project they were interested in had to be put on hold until next year. But because you had been working your plan with the donor prior to your solicitation meeting, you were able to reach out through the phone, and you could discuss a more urgent need the donor could make a gift toward. The donor was receptive because of the relationship you had developed over time.
That’s the beauty of having a strategic plan developed for every donor… that even though the plan changed, because you WORKED the plan previously, you were able to change it but still help the donor make a difference.
All of the mid, major and planned giving officers we work with have a strategic plan attached to each of their donors, who are tiered A-C, and have a revenue goal that is cash-flowed. It makes a huge difference in their performance, but especially in times such as these, it provides clarity, control and purpose to these fundraisers’ daily work.
Perhaps you feel you can’t create a 12-month plan right now for some reason. Richard and I would, at the very least, urge you to create a plan for the donors in your portfolio through the end of summer.
You’ll find that you’ll have much more focus and a sense of calm knowing what you’re doing with your donors. It will help you focus correctly. And, once you’ve created that plan, make sure you communicate that to your manager. Then ask him or her to meet with you regularly to help make sure you’re keeping on track.
I guarantee you, it will help you be a better fundraiser. And you’ll create deeper and more authentic relationships with your donors.