Three tips for gift officers during the COVID-19 crisis

Josh Baylor Gift Officer

We recently spoke with Josh Lassiter, Associate Director of Development at Baylor University. Josh works for Baylor while living outside Atlanta, GA. Here are Josh’s tips to help gift officers remain successful remotely, and how he’s adapting during the COVID-19 crisis:

Check-in (authentically) with your portfolio. 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The worst thing you can do during the COVID-19 crisis is nothing. Your donors and constituents want to hear from you. 

Josh’s first move at the onset of this crisis was to reach out to his entire portfolio and check-in. He shared an update about Baylor’s response to the pandemic, including information about the President’s Excellence Fund, and a few lines of scripture. 

As a proud Christian at a Christian university, Josh’s outreach was authentic and expressive of the care that he has for the university, its students, and the constituents in his portfolio. An ideal message will look different for gift officers or fundraisers at other institutions, but the message remains the same. Let your donors know that you care and are there to support them. 

Check out some more stewardship ideas from our live Q&A with Lynne Wester. 

Meet donors where they are. 

After Josh’s initial COVID-19 outreach, he followed up with constituents that he had existing relationships with on a one-to-one basis. As usual, the cadence and media for effective follow-up vary by person. Some donors get a recorded video message, some receive a follow-up email, some get a Facebook message, a phone call, or a text message. Different donors prefer different modes of communication, and it’s a fundraiser’s job to meet them there. 

This lesson doesn’t just apply to communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Josh adjusts his communication strategies based on the relationship he has with every donor and communicates via the way the donor prefers. Some constituents may prefer to stick with email, but some like to text or talk on the phone. Figure out what your donors prefer and adjust accordingly. 

Take advantage of not being on the road. 

Aside from the obvious adjustments to working from home (No home office? Kids home from school? Roommates?), gift officers are grounded from their usual schedules of travel and donor visits. Fundraisers have the unique opportunity of freed-up schedules and lack of travel time to stop and strategize. 

Josh is using this time (in between virtual visits, of course) to pause and take a good look at his portfolio and strategize. Take a good look at your individual relationships with constituents. Catch up with donors you haven’t talked to in a while. What are these donors looking for? What is the best way to strategically move forward with these relationships? 

As Josh prepares to get back on the road after COVID-19, he shared tips for other gift officers using EverTrue to prospect for new visits. He uses home values, Facebook engagement, past giving, and enriched job title data in EverTrue to find unassigned, high-potential donors to add to his portfolio. Using these tactics, Josh is not only exceeding his goals for FY20, but he booked a $10 million planned gift from a donor who was unrated and previously off of Baylor’s radar.

Watch the full recording of our conversation with Josh here:


Here’s EverTrue’s take on the novel coronavirus pandemic and its impact on advancement: We don’t have all the answers, but we’re going to learn from each other and share best practices for remote fundraising, working from home, and handling uncertainty. Bookmark this page and subscribe for ongoing updates.

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