How to Make Sure Donor Visits Actually Happen



The most common question I receive from my coaching clients, is “How do I get donor visits?” I’ve already shared the process I have successfully used for years to request donor appointments.  But even after reviewing this process, donor visits often still don’t happen.

I’ve found that the problem is typically not just knowing how to request a donor visit, but also setting aside time for the donor visits themselves and time to request the donor visits.  It’s a time-consuming process and unless you are proactive about blocking this time, it will get used for other “urgent” but less important tasks.

So how do I personally address this?  I block time on my calendar, every week, for donor visits AND for requesting donor visits.  You should do the same, but first you need to do some math to see how much time you really need.

Personally, my current goal is to do 200 donor visits per year.  If I do visits 40 weeks out of the year (factoring in vacation time, holiday weeks, the weeks before special events, etc.), that works out to 5 visits per week.  Factoring in travel time, I allow 2 hours per donor visit so I am never rushed.  That means I need 10 hours per week reserved on my calendar for donor visits.  I have learned when I am the least effective in the office and I use that time for my visits.  For me this is Monday and Wednesday afternoons.  I literally have those blocked on my calendar for donor visits — no one is allowed to schedule anything else during that time.  If there’s something I have to go do during that time then I shift my calendar and reschedule that donor visit time for another time period that same week.

But blocking time for donor visits isn’t enough.  You also need to block the time to request these donor visits. I’ve found that every donor visit will also require about 30 minutes of time to request and coordinate it (factoring in my visit request success rate of 50%).  So if I want to do five donor visits per week, that also means that I need to block 2.5 hours on my schedule to request these visits.  I prefer to break this up (it helps with the back and forth emails), so I dedicate 30 minutes every morning (from 7 to 7:30am specifically) for donor visit requests.  I typically send out three new requests every day and follow-up on the ones that were sent previously.

While this may seem extreme to some and very rigid, it’s the only way I’ve found to ensure that donor visits actually take place … every single week.  This is really the key to success for development directors and major gift officers.  You have to dedicate the time for visits AND requesting them.  Blocked out time has to be on your schedule and your colleagues have to know that is sacred.  So go ahead and do it, click over to your calendar and start blocking out some time …