Our bias is toward the effectiveness of face to face meetings. I could go on for a long time about why this is one of the most powerful leadership tools in your possession, but let me give you just one compelling reason. I believe that this approach is near to the heart of what you are actually trying to do in your organization.
If we had all the time and resources we needed, we would work with all our people through our ministry one to one, wouldn’t we? We would do it one person at a time. Development (raising money) is no different because we are talking about the people that God is providing and aligning to your ministry who is moving their heart to give.
This is best done face to face.
A lot of research backs this up as well. Even though we have more and more money being given as the wealth of America continues to increase (we’re now over 300 billion in giving a year), the unfortunate truth is that giving as a percentage of our GDP has remained virtually unchanged since the very first years this was ever studied in post-World War II. So, the truth is that we’re not getting better at getting people giving, we’re actually getting better at raising smaller and smaller amounts of money from a larger number of people.
We believe that if you do face to face meetings well, you can change this trend in your organization. If you do just this one thing well, all the other things will fall into place.
1. How do you get the first meeting?
Call them up on the phone. They need to hear your voice and hear the honesty and authenticity in your voice that can only be done via phone. If you have to, leave a message, ask them to call you back, and don’t give a long detailed message. This is not sales. We’re just trying to treat people right. So, get them on the phone, and let them know what you are asking them to do. Be very straightforward.
I’m often asked about how many times you should reach out to someone. When should you stop reaching out? The answer is never. You never stop.
And no, this does not mean you are harassing people because you are not going away. The work you are doing is important. Your ministry is important. What God is doing is important and you really want them to hear that. Part of your calling in this ministry is to be serious and diligent, and you are not going away. Now please, don’t keep calling and keep calling every day, week, or month (that really would be harassment). Instead, simply increase the amount of time between calls.
I have reached out to some people literally for more than two years before hearing back from them. I didn’t call them every month. First, I called them. Then, I called them the next month. Then, I waited a couple more months, then put it on my calendar to call again in six months, and then once a year. Extraordinary things have happened because what I’m doing is being so gracious and respectful that I’m letting them know that this is important enough for me to continue to reach out to them, trying to provide an update, and get their input.
2. What do you do in the first meeting?
Communicate the Vision
You are meeting with this person and trying to connect with them, and understand them. The best way to do that is to share with them a little bit about your ministry and ask them what their vision is for the ministry. If they are not connected with your organization at all, then you can just talk to them about what their vision is for what they are involved in, working on, and where they are headed with it.
The second part of your agenda is to ask them what advice they have for you. Tell them what you are working on without going into a full blown presentation, let them know where your ministry is headed, and where you are personally focusing your time. People love to give advice. If you ask for input and sit there quietly, they will start giving you advice. It’s important to take notes as they’re talking and show respect for their opinions.
Ask Who You Should Be Talking To
The third part is to ask who else you should be talking to. Ask if they could think of two or three people that you should be talking to. This doesn’t mean just people who will just give money, but people that they know who love to see God at work in the lives of people and really would be excited to hear about what you are working on. Then, sit quietly and have a pen and paper ready.
I know that is simple. That is the point, but you have to be consistent. Treat people with respect and authenticity, and listen well. Listen. Listen. Listen. Let them see you taking notes so that they know this is important to you, and this will also help you follow up effectively.