Don’t Let the Dead Two Months of the Year for Major Donor Meetings turn into Four Months

It is a well known fact this it is extremely hard to secure Major Donor meetings in August and December.  Perhaps in December it is slightly easier up until about the 10th.   After that it is difficult to get anyone’s attention.    It is possible to get meetings in July up until the schools close and then it becomes increasingly difficult to get hold of individuals and book appointments.  I should add that this is not quite as true if you have built the relationship to the point where you are a ‘friend of the family’, in which case there are more opportunities to engage within the holiday season.

The biggest problem is with the two months that follow December and August.  If you have not planned ahead then both January and September can become barren months for meetings as well.  Therefore the two barren months of the year can swiftly turn into four months.

We are now in July and this is the month to look ahead post August to September and book as many meetings as possible, particularly for the first two weeks of September.   Of course you will try during July to secure a date in August but if that doesn’t bring success definitely have your September dates at the ready.   If you haven’t booked 1st – 5th Sept by the end of the school holidays in July it is unlikely that you will do so in August.

The reason is obvious – during August it is much harder to get hold of people.  You might be away and when you come back they are away and so it goes on and, generally speaking, many people use August as a time to kick back a bit, enjoy time with their family and in some cases use the whole month to take off somewhere.

Therefore I would advise that you make it your goal to book the first two weeks in September in July now!  Once this is done you can reassure yourself that you are all lined up for a strong autumn start.   This has a knock on effect giving you a fast start to the prime months for major donor meetings in September, October and November.

If you don’t achieve this and begin to make appointments in September then you are likely to only be able to book for the last week in September and most likely the appointments will get bumped into October.

Why is this?  Usually you will experience best success in booking meetings 3 weeks ahead.  The reason is that next week your potential donor will know exactly how their week looks, the following week pretty much know, it is the third week from now where they will see some gaps to fit you in.  If you only begin to make appointments in the first week of September then most of September becomes a barren month.

The easy solution is to have September dates at the ready when making your phone calls.   If a donor says to you:  “September!  That is quite a way off…”  you can say “Well it is good to get things in the diary now… I am away in August… I expect you are as well as it tends to be busy with family and holidays – how about 2nd September?”.  It usually works really well.

Get appointments in August if you can as not everyone goes away but keep your eye closely on September and book up the first two weeks of the month during July.   The same principle applies for December and January.   Aim to book your meetings for the first two weeks of January by the end of November.

It sounds obvious doesn’t it but you would be amazed how many Executives leave it over the summer and then have a slow September start.

In summary, don’t allow the dead two months of the year (August and December) turn into four months (August, September, December and January).

I would be interested in your experiences……

Ruth is the principal and founder of Ascent Philanthropy, author of two books and passionate about helping non-profits with their major gift programmes by offering advice for introducing a new major gift programme or enhancing the productivity of the philanthropy team

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