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5 tips for more effective virtual donor meetings


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In 2014, three young adults living with a neurodegenerative disease called ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) started a viral trend that nearly everyone remembers today: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge involved participants pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads, then challenging several of their friends on social media to do the same within 24 hours. Friends who failed to meet the challenge would then make a donation to the ALS Association or a charity of their choice.

Within just a few months, people around the world were drenching themselves in freezing cold water and posting it online. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and even Bill Gates joined in on the fun. The ALS Association reported raising a whopping $115 million that year, all thanks to this viral internet campaign.

While the Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t a traditional fundraising campaign, it showed just how powerful the internet can be for donations. In fact, total online donations to nonprofits around the world amounted to $31 billion in 2017—a 12.1% increase from 2016. Nonprofits are increasingly using the internet to reach donors worldwide, and it’s working.

At some point, meeting with donors over video conferencing might be in your future. Not only does it save time and money from traveling between clients, but it also allows you to spend time on more productive things like coordinating the next campaign or planning a board retreat. 

If your organization doesn’t currently have a video conferencing solution or are exploring better options for donor meetings, virtual fundraisers, and staff communications, we’re offering three months of RingCentral Office® free of charge to all nonprofits.

Before you embark on your next online donor meeting, make sure you’re fully prepared to represent your organization. Consider trying out these tips:

1. Create a sense of community with ice breakers

Listening is one of the core principles of a nonprofit organization. Donors enjoy talking about what drives them to support certain causes and want to feel like part of a community that shares the same values, especially when fellow donors are far away. Ice breakers can be a great opportunity for donors to make their case heard while connecting with fellow donors in the call or with you directly.

Plan for ice breaker conversations at the start of every video meeting. Donors might want to talk about current events or causes they’ve contributed to, or even ask you questions about yourself. But don’t make the mistake of jumping right into the donor pitch—you’ll be seen as someone who only cares about the money and not the cause.

Consider using these ice breaker questions to get the conversation going:

  • How did you first get into charitable giving?
  • What attracted you to our cause?
  • How has charitable giving impacted you?
  • What other causes are you passionate about?
  • What do you think our nonprofit can do better?

2. Practice your presentation ahead of time to nail it in the video meeting

Whether you’re meeting new donors for the first time or providing quarterly updates to current donors, your presentation is key to leaving a lasting impression. It’s even more important to customize your presentation for a video meeting, where attention spans can be shorter and body language harder to read.

Plan and practice talking points with a colleague if possible. You can have them act as the donor and ask potential questions that you might encounter. This will give you a good sense of which talking points to keep or cut and how much time each point takes.

It’s also recommended to allocate time between talking points for Q&A. Consider taking a proactive approach and ask your donors if they’re following along with your presentation. Give them as many opportunities to understand your nonprofit’s mission as possible.

3. Make your video meetings easy for donors to join

If donors have to download a video conferencing app, create an account, set up login credentials, and input a meeting ID just to meet you face-to-face, it makes for a poor, tedious experience. Creating a lasting impression starts from the very beginning, and that’s making the meeting process as effortless as possible.

Consider a video meeting solution that allows donors to join with just the click of a button. Browser-based solutions, like RingCentral Video (part of RingCentral Office), allow you to send a meeting invitation link to your donors that opens up directly in a browser. Instead of spending time figuring out the technology, donors can join with just a click and immediately hop into the conversation.

4. Share the agenda with donors before each meeting

Sitting through a presentation can be pretty fatiguing, and it’s common for video meeting participants to zone out. But you want to ensure that donors have all the information they need to make decisions.

Consider sending a meeting agenda with times allotted for each segment of the video meeting directly to donors ahead of time. This not only helps donors stay focused, but makes your nonprofit look structured and organized. It might also be worth sharing your presentation with donors before or after the meeting too.

5. Keep donors engaged by welcoming questions and comments

Donor engagement is vital to keeping them invested in your cause, but it can be challenging to determine their engagement in a video meeting. After all, you don’t have the advantage of nonverbal cues, which is 93% of communication.

Throughout your presentation, it’s important to invite donors to participate in the conversation as much as possible. Give them a chance to ask questions or make comments about things that stand out. Beyond driving higher engagement, this also helps you assess which talking points are resonating with donors.

Meeting donors with confidence will help drive your nonprofit’s goals

With donor meetings increasingly moving onto the internet, approaching donors with the same confidence and clarity in your mission will help meet your fundraising goals and drive your cause forward. Paired with the right video meeting technology, you can enter any donor meeting knowing your organization provides donors with the best experience possible and knock your presentation out of the park.

Learn more about how your nonprofit can raise money online in our post, “Virtual Fundraising: 7 Creative Ideas for Nonprofits.” 

Want to impress your donors with an excellent meeting experience? Click here to get a demo of RingCentral Video today.

Originally published Apr 22, 2020, updated Sep 10, 2021

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