Unprecedented times call for creativity, innovation and opportunity to question what defines a meaningful connection. With in- person visits inadvisable for the foreseeable future, gift officers must seek other ways to advance relationships with donors. Organizations everywhere need new tools to connect with donors and prospects. A virtual visit is an easy first step to connect and keep your key constituents engaged.
THE VIRTUAL OPPORTUNITY
Virtual visits have become more acceptable, if not the norm. Most individuals are accessible by phone, email and social media. Many are eager to learn more about your organization and how it is managing the pandemic. Extroverts and introverts alike are craving connectivity and are more amenable and flexible in accepting virtual visits. There has also been an overall increase in virtual meeting accessibility along with rapid knowledge and comfort levels in using online virtual platforms.
ADVANTAGES OF VIRTUAL VISITS
Meeting donors and prospects virtually eliminates travel time, expenses and the complexity of scheduling appointments. The ability to have a meaningful connection online also broadens the geographic scope of the foundation’s reach and expands the number of attendees during a call. Virtual visits can also provide flexibility and comfort for a donor to meet a gift officer. The virtual connection will remain an effective method to engage individuals, even in the “new normal.”
VISITS THAT SUPPORT GOAL ALIGNMENT
Although the method for connecting has changed, the intent is the same: to create meaningful relationships between the organization and individuals. It is still strategic and respectful to work towards goals for each virtual visit. Be clear in communicating your purpose for virtual visits and honor that in conversations. Don’t imply a call to check on them or to answer questions, and then make it a solicitation call. Review previous research preparation before each connection. Include conversations in the donor database system and plan future engagement with prospects.
Once you recognize the opportunity and goals for virtual connection remain quite similar to original intentions, take some time to prepare for what will be different in establishing a meaningful virtual visit.
METRICS THAT SUPPORT VIRTUAL VISITS
Foundations must recalibrate performance metrics as in-person visits have historically carried more weight. While in-person visits are the most meaningful strategy for all donors, this crisis proves a meaningful connection can also incorporate phone calls, virtual visits, emails and letters. What’s important is the planned touch moves the connection forward. If the relationship and strategy are advanced, the medium of the meeting should not change the outcome. If goals are achieved, a virtual visit can meet the same metrics goal as an in-person visit.
Take some time to prepare for what will be different in establishing a meaningful virtual visit.
VIRTUAL VISIT CHECKLIST: 1. Ask about the donor’s well-being. Provide organizational updates. 2. Solicit their organizational questions and address as appropriate. 3. Use technology to share organizational reports, presentations and photographs on the screen. 4. Communicate the impact of philanthropy (cash and in-kind). 5. Use facial queues to guide the conversation. 6. Encourage a cup of coffee, etc. for a shared experience.
OTHER WAYS TO CONNECT VIRTUALLY
Offer to facilitate connections in the community and within your health organization where appropriate.
Send regular updates on challenges and how your hospital is addressing them.
Handwrite thank you or thinking-of-you notes.
Share meaningful articles or stories happening within the community.
Share inspiring notes you received about your hospital (with permission).
Repurpose other media communications (with permission) with a personal note.
Steward previous donors by sharing how their gift or service line of interest has been impacted.
Hold a virtual toast to celebrate a new gift.
Provide special messages from leadership via video, letters, emails and website blogs.
Create group (10 people or less) calls for shared updates, creating access to insider knowledge and intimate conversation.
Provide updates on canceled or delayed events.
Send birthday cards and anniversary cards that note first or recurring gifts.
Provide virtual, behind-the-scene tours.
Empower board members and volunteers to thank donors for their support and provide the guidance and channels to do so.
VIRTUAL VISIT LOGISTICS
Encourage on-camera meetings, allowing eye- to-eye contact and the ability to read facial queues for a meaningful discussion.
Test your meeting platform ahead of time.
Maintain a professional appearance.
Find a quiet space with a professional background.
If you know the donor or prospect well, you may select a more personal background, such as a shared picture from a past meaningful event.
Ensure a clear, centered, well-lit headshot without reflective backgrounds.
Create an inviting atmosphere with a happy hour, coffee or virtual lunch.
Accordant and Gravyty are committed to bring about the next evolution in health care philanthropy. We partner for webinars, papers and client solutions. Check out our websites for more thought leadership and services information.