How to Get Your Donors to Say “YES” to Donor Meetings

How to Get Your Donors to Say “YES” to Donor Meetings

We need to meet with donors. Face to face is the most effective form of fundraising. We know that, but sometimes donors are a little hesitant. If we haven’t formed a relationship already, it’s hard to get in the door that first time.

So what are some things you can do to help with that? How can you make that a little easier? The first thing, and my biggest recommendation, is to alleviate fears. You need to alleviate fears. So what are they afraid of? Well, first and foremost, I think they’re afraid of time, not money, time. Time is precious. They’re just afraid you’re going to take up their whole day.

So I will say things like, “Do you have 20 minutes for a quick update?” or “Can I get on your calendar for a half hour?” or “Can we grab a quick cup of coffee to go?.” These phrases all alleviate that first fear by showing them that I will be respectful of their time.

Their next biggest fear is money. They’re afraid you’re going to come in, right after they just gave $500, and now you’re going to ask them for $5,000.

Well, chances are you’re not even going to ask them for anything. You just want to meet them, hear their story, and figure out what they’re passionate about — especially on a first time visit. So say that! Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m not going to ask you for anything. I just want to get to know you.” or “I want to meet you and hear your story.” or “I’d love to hear why you’re so passionate about helping kids, etc.”

One other thing you can do to help donors say yes to a donor visit is to ask for advice. Simply say, “I’d love to meet with you because we’re taking a closer look at how we fundraise, and we need some feedback from loyal supporters like you. Could you spare 20 minutes of your time to have a quick cup of coffee with me?.” The old fundraising adage is certainly true: if you ask for money, you’ll get advice … if you ask for advice, you’ll get money.

Why Your Executive Director Needs a Donor Caseload

Why Your Executive Director Needs a Donor Caseload

Every executive director needs a caseload. A caseload of donors, that they manage. A caseload of donors that they work to ensure are having a vibrant and great donor experience with your organization.

I don’t care if the only staff member is the executive director. That’s even more so a case where they need a caseload. I don’t care if they have 20 direct reports and development is not their primary responsibility because they have a whole team of development people. They still need a donor caseload as the top staff member. There’s that certain key top group of donors that expect to have access to the top staff member and their relationship will only deepen with the organization if they get that.

So, if you are a crazy time strapped executive director or not used to doing this, what’s the minimum? I say twelve. Twelve prospects gives you one donor visit a month. If you meet with them each once a year, you’ll be fine. Look at your list once a month or so, reach out on holidays, birthdays, etc. “I was thinking of you today and wanted to let you know what is happening with …” These simple donor touch points will deepen those key relationships. Just think what would happen if the twelve most key relationships at your organization received that focus every year.

If there’s a little more time can we take it to 20, 25 or 30 donor relationships? Imagine the impact that would have. Yes, you as a development staffer are still going to have to prod and push and to make sure those contacts happen. “How’s you caseload going? Have you done your contacts for this month?” But, the impact that it will have with your donors will be well worth it.

So, if you’re an executive director, ask “Could I do this?” If you’re the development director, put this out to your ED and see what they have to say. If you’re a board member, what about evaluating the executive director based on how well they serve their caseload? Did they meet with everybody? Did they routinely reach out to them. That is a great metric for ED success, and for development success at your organization.

37 Facebook Groups Every Nonprofit Professional Needs to Join

Does it sometimes feel like you are all alone on your fundraising island? Do you work in a small shop and you’re the only fundraiser on staff? Does no one else get it?

I’ve found that private Facebook groups can be the answer for the isolation that we sometimes feel as fundraisers in small shops. It’s why I started the Fundraising Fish Fry but that isn’t the only option out there. Wild Apricot maintains this great list of nonprofit Facebook groups. There’s something for everyone … some very specialized, some very broad. Check it out and grow the peer support network that you need!

Auction Item Wishlist Template

Do you ask your board or event committee to bring in silent auction items but nothing happens? Is it like pulling teeth to get them to even round up gift cards from their favorite stores? You need to paint a picture for them and tell them what you actually want. Create some ideal auction packages and pass out the list. Then they can say “Oh yeah, I know the owner of that store. I can probably get that.” Otherwise they might not think of it.

What’s the tool here?  An auction item wishlist template.  Give @fundraiserchad‘s free template a download, tweak it for your organization, and make your event committees more productive!

Guide to the Best Charity Auction Items

the best items seen in 2018

Here’s a great annual FREE resource for you.  Every year pro auctioneer and charity auction expert Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions puts out a guide to the best auction items that she saw the previous year.  She just released her 2018 list and it is chock full of great ideas for your next auction.  Sure, the standard stuff is in there (wine, trips, etc.) but there are always a few innovative items that can inspire you to create something truly unique for your next auction.  Give it a download today.

The Best Fundraising Database (Podcast Interview)

In February of 2019, @fundraiserchad was honored to be a guest on Simon Scriver’s Amazingly Ultimate Fundraising Superstar Podcast.


Simon spoke with Chad about his Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Databases, tips for selecting the right fundraising database for your organization and one of Chad’s favorite topics, personal productivity.

The 6 Best Charity Live Auction Money Makers

The 6 Best Charity Live Auction Money Makers

Tim Keller,  of the H.K. Keller Fundraising Auction Team, joins @fundraiserchad to share the 6 best live auction money makers… 

#1 Unique Experiences

The first category is experiences that are unique to the organization. We work with a theater that’s able to sell a trip to New York to be there for the audition.  The theater fans, they love it, and spend big money to be able to sit there with the producer. That’s a unique experience that the organization is able to provide. Unique experiences are the number one seller in a live auction.

#2 Food & Wine

Second is food and wine. Right now, food and wine is very, very big. That could include trips and experiences. We have found that providing a trip for groups of people, for two, three or four couples have been big sellers with food and wine experiences.

#3 Travel

The third is travel. People love to buy experiences, so when we can create a travel experience for them, something that’s a little unique, a little different than just something they can buy, it sells for big money.

#4 Entertainment & Sports

The fourth item is entertainment and sports. Anytime we can get people backstage, behind the scenes, into the locker room, they are willing to pay big money for that.

#5 Pampering

The fifth item is pampering. This could include shopping sprees, spa trips, anything that people can do to relax and have fun together.  Again, we’re back to experiences.

#6 Stuff

Sixth and lowest on the list is stuff.  The people coming to your events already have all the stuff they need. They don’t need your stuff.

One of the things that we do to help organizations find the right things for their auction is to conduct a brainstorming session, and it starts with this question, “Who do you know that knows someone?.” Because there’s people within your board, people within your team that have connections to amazing things, not just all over the country, but all over the world.  And all it takes is a simple ask and you have a fantastic auction item.

Consent Agenda Template

free resource board meeting consent agenda

Does it seem like you spend your entire board meetings going through reports?  Do you spend all your time talking about what has already happened and very little on the future?  You need to get those reports out of your meeting discussion, read in advance and just accepted at the meeting.  What’s the tool here?  A consent agenda.  Give @fundraiserchad‘s free template a download, tweak it for your organization, and reclaim your board meetings in the name of strategic discussion!

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Databases

@fundraiserchad’s Ultimate Guide to Fundraising Databases

So, you think your organization is ready for its first fundraising database/CRM?  Or maybe you hate your current one and you’re thinking about making a change.  Where do you even begin?

How to Select the Best Fundraising Database

The key is not to select THE BEST fundraising database.  Chances are you don’t need the one with every single bell and whistle.  You need the one that is right for your organization and your staff.  You have budget constraints, staff skills, time constraints and conversion issues to take into consideration.

My top recommendation is the take a step back and figure out what you actually want and need before you start looking at specific products.  There are a ton out there and it quickly gets overwhelming.  Knowing your requirements before you start will allow you to quickly eliminate options and move others to the top of the list.

Here are a few other articles and resources to help you with this process:

Current Fundraising Database / CRM Options

Okay, okay, I made you wait long enough.  Here are all the fundraising databases that I’m currently aware of that are being offered by credible and ethical companies.  Many of these companies also share anonymous data for research purposes and do their part to increase the body of research in the field.  A win for everyone!  The first few are my favorite (based on actual experience with the product) and then it switches to alphabetical order by company name.  I’ve included a quick demo/spotlight video if I could find one for each product and any notes on my personal experience with it.  Do you know of a product that’s not on the list?  Please let me know.  Happy shopping …


Bloomerang is @fundraiserchad’s database of choice.  He’s been around many of the leading products and by far Bloomerang has been the easiest to use on all fronts.  Many databases excel at ease of data entry, a few are good at reports and queries and very few make setup and changes a breeze.  Bloomerang makes all of these steps easy, even for non-techies.  They also have a completely free offering for very small shops (under 500 donors & less than $100,000 in revenue annually).  Please shop around and see what else is out there, but be sure to add Bloomerang to your list if you’re in the market for a new donor database.   Click here to schedule a demo with their expert staff.

But just because it’s my favorite, doesn’t mean Bloomerang is the right fit for your organization.  You have to check it out.  If it isn’t, here’s a comprehensive list of other options (and please contact me if I missed one and I’ll be sure to add it).


I’ve seen NeonCRM in action at a few organizations and it’s a pretty good tool.  I find it a little clunky on the back end (difficult to setup / make changes) but for some organizations it can be good value for the investment.

Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot is focused more on membership type organizations but can be adapted for use at any nonprofit.  I have not seen the tool in action; however, I’ve had some great interactions with their staff over the years and they provide a lot of good service to the industry.

Fronstream Panorama / GiftWorks Cloud

Many moons ago I was a GiftWorks subscriber.  The company was founded in Lancaster, PA which was the next city over for me for many years.  My organization got in during the startup years and watched it evolve.  Unfortunately that evolution and the customer support seemed to slow down when they got bought out, but I have not had interaction with them in recent years.  I have always liked this product.

Abila Millennium


Arreva Exceed Beyond

(formerly Telosa Software)

Blackbaud eTapestry

Have a Fundraising Plan. Period.

Have a Fundraising Plan. Period.

You really need a fundraising plan. You can’t just fly by the seat of your pants and take opportunities as they come along. That’s reactive fundraising. You need to be proactive.

A structured fundraising plan is the key to success. It’s actually been proven to be the number one indicator of fundraising success. Fundraising shops that simply have a plan, regardless of what is in it, perform a lot better than organizations without a fundraising plan.

It goes back to the old Ben Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan, then you’re really planning to fail.” So please, invest the time to put together a simple fundraising plan which will take your fundraising operation to the next level.

Once or twice a week Chad sends out quick video tips, free fundraising templates/samples, links to articles by industry gurus and top notch recommendations.  Want in?

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