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Working from Home as a Gift Planner

In these odd and unpredictable times, we have all had to make adjustments. If you were a regular at your favorite coffee shop, you may have had to learn how your coffee pot works.  If you are an avid sports fan, you have been forced to find other programs to watch on television.  Saturday night out with friends has become a “virtual get-together” in your PJs.  The extra bedroom is now your remote office. We have all had to adapt to this new way of life.

I am not a gift planner. But similar to a gift planner making connections with donors, I regularly connect with people and form relationships.  COVID-19 has forced me to make a shift in the way I do things.  So, the question is how does a gift planner continue to do their job and feel productive in the current environment?

Task Completion Vs Hourly Completion

In today’s socially distanced world, we have a unique opportunity to change the way we approach our jobs. We no longer take the long drive to work, punch our time card and stay until it is time to go home. We have the ability to view our daily results by task completion rather than the number of hours we logged. How do we transform our mindset to focus more on the tasks at hand as we work-from-home as opposed to hours spent in the office?

The first step in making the transformation to a task completion mindset is to daily create a list of the tasks you need to accomplish in order to achieve your goals. Then follow-up with a second important step, work on those tasks, completing them step by step, one at a time.  By following these two basic steps, you will find yourself being extremely productive and meeting your deadlines. The third step is to schedule some time at the end of your workday to log and review your accomplishments. Were your goals accomplished? Could you do more? If you have tasks that were not realized, move them to the list for the next day. It is important to not let them slip away. This third step is vital because seeing your accomplishments written down will encourage you to keep going. Plus, giving yourself a pat on the back is necessary in these isolated times.

Productive Time

I normally travel often and I enjoy it. However, the long drive to the airport, security checkpoints, and delayed flights all take time away from work and family.  In today’s world you might find that you have more time to spend “cleaning Monica’s closet.” For those of you that aren’t familiar with the popular 90’s television sitcom “Friends,” Monica, a serious organizer and neat freak, has a closet in her apartment that no one is allowed to see. It’s full of things she has nowhere else to put. It is messy, cluttered and too overwhelming to organize.

What is your “Monica’s closet?” What is the one thing on your to-do list that you keep pushing aside? Maybe it is taking the time to finally assess and analyze your email lists. Are you properly maintaining your contacts email addresses? Are you segmenting your lists? Or are you like Monica, and once you get an email address you just throw it on a list (push it in your closet)? This might be the opportune time to review and break down your email lists in order for you to maximize your target marketing. Maybe now is the time to assess your legacy society? Is it time to sit down and create a stewardship plan for your donors?

Productive Breaks

There are no more 20 minutes to chat with your co-workers about what you wanted to do but did not do over the weekend. No more walks to the water cooler only to realize you forgot your water bottle on your desk and need to walk back to your office. No more lunch breaks sitting in your car deciding which fast food drive thru line you think will be the shortest.

It is important to remember, taking break a is vital. It is a proven fact that people get more things accomplished with solid rest and small breaks throughout the day. We all have a personal to-do list away from work: do the laundry, walk the dog, feed the cat, mow the lawn and the list goes on and on. “Never bring your work home with you” has always been a phrase reminding people to keep their work and personal priorities in order. We now have the opportunity to bring a little of our home to our jobs. Remember task completion, over hourly completion, is just as important in your personal life as well as your professional life.

Distance Proposals

Gift planners connect with donors in many ways. Most commonly, electronically (websites, enewsletters, eblasts, personal emails), phone calls and face to face visits. Gift planners use different ways to communicate for a variety of reasons. For example, enewsletters or an eblast are most commonly used to educate and inform the donor on the organization’s mission and possible gift options. Typically, when it comes time to propose a specific gift to a donor, a face to face visit is almost always the preferred method of gift planners. Face to face visits allow you to connect with a donor on a very direct and personal level. Face to face interaction is one of the strongest ways to create connections and develop relationships.

Being able to look someone in the eye and express how important they are to your mission is so very important. Showing your donor the impact they can make is imperative. Like anything, there are some drawbacks. Face to face visits take a lot of time, can be costly and with the current social distancing requirements, almost impossible. Another option is a phone call. Phone calls remind the donor that they are being thought of and remembered on a personal level. Phone calls allow you more opportunity and time to speak to more donors. Given the events of today it is important to realize that people seem to have more time to simply talk. Not many people would argue that a phone call is as personal as a face-to-face visit, however, if planned properly, a call can still be effective. So, what is an effective way to create and present a donor proposal today?

When doing a “distance proposal”, you can combine the power of a face-to-face visit, the effectiveness of a phone call and provide the education of an email. A gift planner recently shared with me how she closed a large cash gift by creatively using the idea of a distance proposal. She started by creating the proposal using proposal software. Entering the donor’s information and the gift amount, her software generated a custom four-page motivational proposal that included the donor’s tax benefits, an explanation of how the gift works and information of how to move forward. The custom proposal included pictures and the organization’s colors and logos in a creative way. Once the proposal was ready, she emailed the proposal as an attachment.

She arranged a follow-up phone meeting with the donor. The purpose of the phone call was to walk the donor through the process of creating an online video meeting account. There are many free video conferencing apps available allowing you and your donor to have face to face virtual meeting. The donor is 94 years old, so she was prepared with troubleshooting tips and step by step instructions. She was also prepared with instructions on how to open the email she had previously sent.

Once everyone was set, she began walking the donor through the proposal. In a world of social distancing, with the capabilities already at her disposal, she was able to use the effectiveness of email, phone and teleconferencing tools. All with the personal touch of a face-to-face visit.  The donor made the gift to her organization. Ironic, once thought as something contributing to isolation and social distancing, these powerful technologies may be the very thing that keeps us together.

I hope you found these points helpful. As we all continue to follow state and local government requirements for social distancing and our companies’ procedures for work-from-home, stay focused, stay productive, take short breaks, keep to your task lists and reward yourself for a job well done!  I wish you a healthy and safe future.

Steven Walker

By Steven Walker
Integrated Marketing- Central Region, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

Karen says:
May 6, 2020 3:57 PM PT

Great article, will definitely use some of your pointers in my daily routine. Thank you

Steven Walker says:
May 7, 2020 8:22 AM PT

Thank you for your comment! I am glad you found it helpful.

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