I’ve recently been contemplating sending out cold calendar invites to prospects that I have been unsuccessful getting a hold of in more traditional manners.
I’ve done the the tried and true, calls, emails, letters, proposals by mail, drop bys at offices etc. But in a world where so many are remote, these tactics aren’t as sure fire as they used to be.
That’s where the cold calendar invite comes in (conceptually), as a new way of trying to spark interest or open the doors to a conversation. I can see some pitfalls with this, but I’m curious to try my luck with it.
Has anyone done this before? If so, how did it go? If you haven’t tried it, would you, and if so why or why not?
I’ve tried this and generally found that it is only successful when I’ve had a conversation with someone and they say something like “I’m free all day Friday, send me an invite sometime in the afternoon.” The few times I’ve tried sent a completely cold invite it, at best it gets ignored, at worst it makes them mad.
Similar to what Claire H. suggested, I’d be intersted in knowing why you’re reaching out to the people you’re reaching out to – did a wealth screen say they’re rich and charitable? That doesn’t mean they want to talk to you or even support your org.
If they’re already giving, perhaps a first piece of outreach is “Hi, I’m Fundraiser 93 – you’ve given to us generously and I want to thank you, get to know you, get a better idea why you support us, and answer any questions you have. I promise not to ask for a gift when we speak, how does Friday work??”
After a number of missed calls/emails/letters/carrier pigeons/smoke signals/etc., consider calling out that you’ve reached out: “Donor, I’ve reached out a number of times and haven’t heard from you. I understand you’re very busy and it might be a bad time. I hope to speak, but unless I hear differently, I’ll press pause on my communication until June.”
Getting appointments with donors is the hardest part of a gift officer’s work! You should consider yourself very good at it if you hit one in ten. Getting to high net worth individuals is even more difficult, and can take years, even with proper introductions from a peer. I wonder if perhaps you should refocus your efforts through a new review of your portfolio? Are you spending too much effort trying to get to the wrong donors, who signal their disinterest by not responding? Do you need help to identify those who ARE interested? Could you try information visits with those who’ve given every year for ten years, for example? All that said, I would not every hit someone with a cold calendar invite. My metrics, my frustration, my… are not the donor’s problem. Calendars are private and this invasion may do more harm than good.