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Having An Online Donor Meeting: 12 Effective Tips

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Online donor meeting

We know there is no substitute for in-person communication. We know we can share our energy, passion, and dedication when we come together.

That’s why major Gift Officers (MGOs) run all over the country meeting with major donors. But it’s hard to have a life when you’re constantly traveling. You have to be always on. You can never have a bad day. You can never be sick. And you have to keep that cheery facade. It can be wearing.

However, all of this is about to change.

In the age of COVID-19, online donor meetings will become the norm.

Are you a development professional or nonprofit leader who wants to meet with donors but can’t now that we’re social distancing?


With the latest data we have, COVID-19 will infect over thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands. A large portion of the at-risk population is the more-elderly demographic.

If your most loyal donors are older than 65, we absolutely cannot meet with them to put them at risk. We must do what we can to protect our donors from infection. But we shouldn’t just postpone meetings, either.

So, what can we do? We can have them online and give donors updates from the field through (video) conference calls! When we have donors who cannot see programs in person, we can do what international aid nonprofits have done for a long time: have quarterly or even monthly conference calls with your top donors, to tell them what is happening on the ground with services, and to get their impressions and feedback.

When you have a conference call with donors, how do you make it successful?

Here’s how you can engage donors in a conference call:

1. We are all feeling a bit anxious right now, and even isolated. So, if it’s a small enough group, have people go around and introduce themselves. Let them see they are part of a community of people who care about your cause.

2. Enable other videos on your meeting software. Allow people to speak up.

3. To keep people on track, share the agenda in the beginning, with times allotted for each part. That way if people get impatient, they can track each section to hang in there.

4. Tell the story of one person/animal being affected right now, and what you are doing for them. If possible, share a visual aid to the story. (A picture, or hold up something that represents the person to your camera).

5. Be honest. Tell people you are worried about the future and you’re not sure when this crisis will end.

6. Ask them for their impressions. What would they do in your shoes?

7. Do not ask for money. Share your immediate plans and thank them for their advice.

Here’s how you can engage supporters during an online donor meeting: Ask them these questions!

8. What causes do you care about?

9. What drew you to the nonprofit?

10. Have you ever thought about your legacy? What would you like your legacy to be?

11. How do you like to engage with nonprofits?

12. Do we communicate with you enough? Not enough?

Do you see how it’s mostly about them talking, not you? That’s on purpose. The more they talk, the more they feel connected to you. Take notes, and make sure to put them in the donor record notes field, so you can remember them later.

Don’t forget to ask your donors, before you end the meeting:

  • Is there a way to make this meeting more engaging for you?
  • How could we do better with online meetings?
  • Is there something you would like to see?

Have you run an online donor meeting? What is your advice? Please leave a comment below!

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