Fundraising – Visiting Potential Donors?
Monday, 29th October 2001 at 12:10 pm
Given the resources, home visits appear to be growing in popularity as a way of keeping supporters and increasing donations for many fundraising organisations.
The Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute re-introduced home visits eight months ago and is now in the process of assessing their success.
The Institute’s Manager of Community Relations and Fundraising, Michelle Trevorrow says their donor liaison officer is working four days a week visiting donors who have made 20 gifts or more over the past five years.
Visits are also made to people they know who have made bequests to the Institute as well as calling in on local Funeral Directors to let them know about Peter Mac’s memorial gift program.
Trevorrow, who is also on the Executive of the Fundraising Institute of Australia, says the visit may just be a “quick hello” at the door to leave a gift pen, or it may be going inside for a cup of tea and time to chat about their garden as well as the work of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.
She says the visits are aimed at older donors who are more often at home and the response of many has been that they are thrilled to get the visit.
Last month the donor liaison officer visited 123 homes and spoke to 72 people.
Trevorrow says the program is still being assessed in terms of working out the frequency of visits and the financial impact. All the information is now being put onto a database instead of the old card system used in 1996.
Based on early anecdotal information, Trevorrow says personal visits are proving worthwhile with many people saying they had stopped giving before the visit and they are now happy to re-activate their donations.
Australian Red Cross has been operating an extensive program of home visits for the past ten years. In Victoria it operates with two full time and one part time home liaison workers.
Sue James is the Group Manager of Fundraising who describes the home visit program as “friend-raising” not fundraising.
James says the liaison workers visit the homes of so called ‘key’ donors – those who donate on a regular basis – and hand deliver receipts with a personal ‘thankyou’.
Red Cross visits about 360 key donors a month in each state.
James says the data is only now being complied onto computer and while the data may not show an instant increase in donations from those they visit, the ‘friend –raising’ aspect has a much more long term benefit particularly when Red Cross is remembered in a bequest.
James says those they visit become advocates for the organisation and tell their friends and family about the special relationship they have with Red Cross Australia.
Trish O’Carroll from Alzheimer’s Association Victoria believes the closer an organisation can get to the donor the higher the donation. However many Not for Profits like hers do not have the resources to carry out home visits.
O’Carroll says smaller organisations use the telephone to make contact and maintain a relationship with regular donors.
Not everyone is convinced of the success of personal visits. Roberta Styles, the Marketing and Development Coordinator with the Heart Research Centre says her organisation wants to increase its personal visits to donors but past experience has shown them to be very time consuming without an increase in funds.
She says the experience of other organisations will help her to re-establish a program of personal visits.
What is your organisation’s experience of personal visits to donors? Join our on line Forum on probonoaustralia.com.au.