Meeting with a donor or new potential supporter while buying a cup of coffee or immediately after the meeting has finished is my favorite time. When starting new relationships, so much of the conversation is about superficial things. One person tests the other out. You talk a little about your organization, he or she talks a little about the business. The bulk of the conversation is spent discussing the business of the meeting.
What I love about buying a cup of coffee or waiting in line with a donor is that you have a totally different conversation. You often talk about more personal things that are going on in his or her life. You talk about whatever is most priority– from a new business deal to something with his or her family. It is a time where people are a little bit more honest and willing to talk personally. I think some of it may even have to do with doing an activity together. There is power in a shared experience.
“If you continue to focus on the major gift sale,
You will never move up the relationship scale.”
– Marshall Howard
In the fundraising style referenced in Let’s Have Lunch Together, this would be considered taking time to build a solid relational foundation. Marshall would likely encourage us not to just stop in the coffee line. Make time to personally connect with your donors for an entire meeting or multiple meetings and they will show a deeper interest in you and in the organization.
We all have busy work weeks and are trying to maximize the time that we have in the most efficient way. I’ve found that my favorite part of each meeting is often waiting in line for a cup of coffee. How do you break the ice in a conversation? Have you found waiting in line with a donor to be a good time to learn more about them personally?