Block Time for Donor Visits (and for Scheduling Them)

Donor visits are the one fundraising technique that we all know we should be doing, but they’re so hard to pull off on a consistent basis. 

There are just so many demands on our time, and donor visits take us out of the office and away from other activities.  We must have dedicated time to do them! But, especially if you’re running a small shop, it’s just so hard to find that time.

So here’s what I did as a small shop fundraiser and what I encourage my clients to do: block time on your calendar each and every week for donor visits

Now, you need to do a little math. I like to allow 2 hours for a donor visit, including travel time. How many do you need to do each month? Multiply that number by 2 (2 hours per visit), now divided it by 4 (4 weeks per month). The result is how many hours each week you should block for donor visits.

So for me, that was four hours per week. I typically split that into two, 2-hour blocks spread throughout the week. And I always liked to schedule these for when I was least effective in the office.  For me, that’s mid-to-late afternoon time. So, I blocked Monday and Wednesday late afternoons as recurring appointments, marked as busy, so nothing else can be scheduled during that time.  It is a time I held sacred for donor visits.

Did all my visits happen on Monday and Wednesday afternoons? No, of course not. But I had held that time so I had the margin and wiggle room to move other things around to accommodate them. You can’t schedule donor visits if your calendar is already full.

But, is that good enough? If you just have that time blocked and you go through the everyday hustle and bustle of your job, you’ll get to the next week (and your donor visit time block) and you’ll still be in the office. That’s because you didn’t take the time to actually scheduled those donor visits.  So, the other key thing that I recommend is to have a time block set aside for scheduling donor visits each and every week. I have always had a half-hour time block where I was simply sending emails, making phone calls, and following-up, to try to get those donor visits scheduled for the next few weeks.

That’s the key to make this (or almost anything) happen — you have to set aside the time and protect it from other less important, yet still “urgent” items.  Now, quit reading this and make some contacts so you can get out of the office and have those visits that we know are so effective!