By Michele Mosley, MSW, Grants for Growth Consultant
Aah, May! Flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. The sky is bluer and the grass greener. And hopefully, your organization is slowing down a bit to celebrate a few award notifications at the close of a busy spring grants cycle. During the late spring or early summer months, because schedules are calmer, you might consider inviting existing or prospective funders to visit for an agency tour or coffee date. These “just because” visit invitations are great ways to try and nurture relationships outside of presenting an ask (don’t forget to add your major donors to the mix!).
So, how do you go about scheduling this meeting or tour? “Easy!” You enthusiastically respond, “I’ll just email this (enter choice name of virtual scheduler) link requesting that they find a meeting time that works for both of our schedules!” Please don’t, and here’s why.
There’s a tacit power dynamic created when you ask someone to use a virtual scheduler (think Calendly). It’s almost like you’re saying, “Hey, do us both a favor and help me figure out when I can squeeze you into my calendar.” We shouldn’t be in the business of casually asking someone with whom we may not have a strong relationship, and especially a donor or funder we’re trying to impress, to do us such a favor.
I’d like to think that I’ve always been aware of this dynamic, but in truth, I haven’t. When I worked on the grantmaking side, I thought nothing of sending my Calendly link to grantees to schedule meetings. I thought I was making everyone’s life easier. And I was. But the perceived power dynamic was different. I was the person sought after for a meeting, so it made sense for the person requesting my time to do more of the leg work to make sure that we connected. Now that I am once again on the fundraising side of the philanthropic table, I see things differently, all thanks to the wisdom of a much more experienced fundraising consultant who happened to share her opinion of virtual schedulers in passing. “I hate them!” She exclaimed. “If you want to get on my calendar so I can help you, why are you making me waste my time doing a job that your personal assistant would do? You do the work!” Mic drop.
Initially, I chalked her opinion up to a potential generational difference in technology use and/or communication preferences. After more thought, however, I understood what she meant and came to agree with her. Noted: don’t send my personal scheduling link to a funder. Check. What’s more important than blanket funder communication dos and don’ts is simply understanding who you are communicating with, and respecting their preferences. Ultimately, we need to be more self-aware about how we show up, and more aware of the needs and desires of others. Just as we should respect and adhere to what people would like to be called (including how to spell their names—I’d be up there with Oprah if I had a dollar for every correspondence I received with my first name misspelled–one “L” people!), we should try to be mindful about potential preferences with regard to interpersonal connections…especially if it’s with someone you’d like to impress!
In short, if you want to meet with a donor, a funder rep, or anyone, really, and you want to make a good impression, don’t ask them to do more work than you to ensure that the meeting even happens. Take a little extra time to find out their availability, and schedule accordingly. Happy Spring/Summer!
Questions about how to initiate or cultivate relationships with funding partners? Contact Let’s Build Hope: (314) 716-2496 or LetsBuildHope@lbh-stl.com.
#LBH #FunderVisits # MakeAGoodImpression #FunderCommunications #ScheduleAccordingly #DoTheWork #Blog #GlimmersOfHope