The $100,000 Zoom Call!

Have you scheduled a Zoom donor call yet? Perhaps you have been a late adopter and wonder if your ministry partners are willing to connect digitally. Truth be told, probably most of them have been facetiming their grandchildren for months. Video calls are a wonderful tool because you can see your donor’s face and respond to their body language. You can make a deeper connection, see their home, and even comment on an item you might see on a shelf or a family photo on the wall. Here are a few tips to consider.

1. Know Your Platform. Are you using Webex, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet? Each platform has its own unique features. Familiarize yourself so you can help guide your ministry partner if they have difficulty.

Understand time limitations. WebEx has a 50-minute time limit and Zoom has a 40-minute cap. Plan your conversation well; you don’t want to rush your ask before the clock runs out. You can avoid this by purchasing an unlimited plan.

Log-on 5 minutes early. Legendary Packer’s coach Vince Lombardi once said, “If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late!” Its much better to wait on your donor than to have your donor wait on you.

Look professional. Check your background, position your camera properly, manage your lighting so your face is visible. All of these are important elements of having a great virtual call.

Consider FaceTime or WhatsApp. Virtual platforms may add a level of complexity for your donor. Offer to use FaceTime or WhatsApp which might be easier and more familiar.

2. Understand Your Audience. Some seniors are very tech savvy; some are not. Know your donors’ tech comfort level and help them have a great experience.

Send an instruction email. Before your meeting send an email with a link and all the information they will need. Do your donors need to download an app? Consider including a how-to document that describes the process step-by-step.

Encourage your donor to keep their camera on. Occasionally, someone doesn’t turn on their video. They might not know which button to push; they might be shy or having a bad hair day. Encourage them by saying, “I’d love to see your face.”

Avoid distractions. We’ve all seen Zoom kids and animals. Try to limit any distractions but don’t freak out if they happen. Just take it in stride.

Have a contingency plan. You might experience internet connection problems. Don’t keep trying a bad connection, just default to a phone call. Let them know that if you get disconnected you will call them.

3. Make a Personal Connection. Video gives you an opportunity to make a much deeper connection than just a voice call.

Clearly communication the purpose of your visit. Let them know in advance if you are planning to ask. Say something like, “I would love to connect with you on a Zoom call to share some current ministry updates and prayer requests and ask if you would consider supporting our year end campaign.”

Focus on your donor. Make the first part of your visit about them and their well-being. Catch up on life since the last time you spoke.

Say “Thank You.” Gratitude never goes out of style. Virtual calls give you an opportunity to look your donors in the eye and genuinely express your heartfelt thanks.

Tune into facial expressions. Always mention how good it is to see their faces. This is especially meaningful during COVID when perhaps they haven’t been able to go to church to see their friends.

4. Tell Your Story. Take advantage of the video platform to creatively tell your story.

Send materials in advance. If you have a brochure or even a gift proposal mail or email it in advance to give them time to read it and think about questions they may have.

Include other team members. Virtual meetings give you the flexibility to include your president, a board member, and a faculty or staff member. Use these expert witnesses to add excitement to your meeting and build a strong case for support.

Give a virtual tour. Take your iPad and walk around your building or campus and let your donors see your ministry in real time.

Share a video. If you can’t take a tour, consider showing a video. Be sure to practice first. Videos can add so much to the conversation but it’s one more thing that could go wrong.

5. Focus on Outcomes. If you don’t have a plan for your meeting, it can easily drift into just a pleasant conversation.

Identify three outcomes. Put a post-it note with your meeting outcomes on your monitor to remind you to accomplish your goal. These could be to gather personal information, identify giving interests, discover motivations, or ask for a specific gift, etc.

Stick to your time limit. Virtual calls tend to be more focused. Don’t rush the conversation but realize that a donor’s attention span may be less than the Zoom imposed time limit. Follow the three “B’s” (Be Sharp, Be Brief, and Be Gone).

Establish your next steps. Don’t hang up without outlining your follow-up plan. If they need time to pray about their gift decision ask, “Would it be okay if I called you in a couple of weeks to hear how the Lord might be leading you to partner with us?”

Follow-up. Treat virtual donor calls as you would in-person calls. Send a hand-written note. Answer any questions they asked in the meeting. Share additional information. Check on their gift decision and pray with your donor.

Cross International works with partners in 14 countries reaching out to 40,000 children and families though 46 projects like food, clean water, orphan and childcare, medical aid, education, housing, disaster relief, and microenterprise opportunities. Cross has a small team of three Individual Donor Officers (IDO) and a new mid-level donor representative.

Kristen, one of their IDOs, has been cultivating a donor who was interested in a food project in Guatemala. This ministry partner gave $1,000 last year, so Kristen followed up with thank you notes, reached out with phone calls and emails, and attempted a personal meeting. The donor didn’t have time for a meeting, but later sent $40,000. Kristen continued the conversation and earlier this year the donor wanted to travel to Guatemala to meet the team but COVID restrictions prevented him. So, Kristen offered a Zoom visit with the executive director, herself, and their Guatemalan partners. The donor asked his questions directly to the field staff doing the work. As a result of that conversation he made a $100,000 gift!

Virtual visits work, yet they don’t always go smoothly. You can be fully prepared, but Murphy’s Law applies especially to technology. Kristen had scheduled three interviews, unfortunately one of the partners could not connect. The donor was understanding about the limitations of technology in developing countries and thanked Kristen for all her work to schedule the meetings.

One last note: The donor had car trouble that day and logged on from his phone while stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. This donor has an incredibly busy schedule, but God slowed him down that day so he could hear a great impact story directly from international ministry partners.

Be creative in your approach to virtual meetings and boldly tell your story to your donors. Perhaps God will throw open the floodgates of heaven for your ministry.

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