Have a Personal Touch

“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you.”
– Rasheed Ogunlaru

 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Exodus 33:11

Early in my tenure as a college president, at a dinner hosted by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, I happened to sit beside a seasoned president who was known for his excellent leadership and fundraising abilities. For 90 minutes, I asked questions, probed his thinking, and learned about fundraising from a college president. My major take-a-way from the conversation was that becoming a genuine friend with the donor and building the relationship with them was most important. I remember thinking, “This is not that difficult. I know how to become friends with people.” From that moment on I became committed to relational fundraising rather than transactional fundraising. I saw fundraising as friend- raising.

“People give to people” is considered to be the number one rule of fundraising. When a strong, positive, and trusting relationship has been forged, donors will respond with a transformational gift. A donor trusts the ministry to the degree that they trust the messenger representing the ministry. And who the messenger is becomes critical in the response of the donor.

People are hungry for friendships. Genuine friendships where friends spent time together telling stories and loving each other is an enjoyable experience. You can gauge the depth of the friendship when the donor calls you rather than you calling them.

I have found people do not want to be treated as objects or loved because of their wealth. They desire connection. They deeply appreciate that personal touch where people are genuinely interested in what is happening in their lives.

The habit of our advancement team at the college was when an area of the country was hit by a storm or newsworthy event, we would get on the phone and call just to see how they were doing. When COVID hit, in a two week time, the team of 4 people made more than 600 calls just to see how people were doing in the pandemic. Many of these calls ended up being quite lengthy. Our team had a wonderful time and our donors deeply appreciated our love and care.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of sitting with a potential donor face to face and talking about your ministry and their potential involvement. In this era of video conferencing, Zoom, FaceTime, and texting, there is nothing that can top sitting with a donor, in person, and discussing your project. Like God and Moses, speaking “face to face as one speaks to a friend” is the crème de la crème of fundraising.

Average fundraising close ratios as reported by The Timothy Group with 1850+ clients are as follows:

Direct mail: 1-5% (depending on the need communicated and quality of mail piece)

Telephone: 30% (mostly with lapsed donors)

Group events: 50% (who invited them is important)

Personal request: 75-80%+ (key is right person making the call)

The personal touch is so important in receiving a sizable gift when the time is right.

About the Author: Jules Glanzer served as a pastor and church planter for 25 years, a seminary dean at George Fox University, and the college president at Tabor College. While at Tabor, God used his efforts to raise more than $53 million with no gift over $2 million. Jules serves as an adjunct professor, mentor, senior consultant with the Timothy Group, and recently authored Money. Money. Money. Actions for Effective Fundraising.

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