“I haven’t been able to meet with my donors for the past six months,” a major gift officer shared with me. “Yes, I can talk with them by phone,” he continued, “but I just don’t seem to be getting the same giving traction,” he said. After further questioning, I found out that he hadn’t been asking for in-person meetings because of the pandemic. He was missing out on 55% of his power.
This conversation happened during a recent client visit to Houston. It felt great to meet face-to-face with this client for the first time since the pandemic. Not surprisingly, our work together was far more effective in person than it would have been via phone or Zoom. By being in person, we were clearly benefitting from the power of 55%.
Back in the 1970s, Albert Mehrabian, a professor at UCLA, conducted a pair of studies on the impact of verbal and nonverbal cues on attitude. Specifically, he was measuring what aspects influenced whether subjects liked or disliked something. His study suggested that words only had a 7% impact on the subject’s change in attitudes. That was a surprising finding! While words are certainly important, what was clearly more important was the nonverbal cues. Vocal tone had a 38% impact, and facial and body language had a 55% impact on attitudes. These findings produced what Professor Mehrabian called the 7-38-55% Rule.
No matter if the percentages are exact, there is no question that nonverbal cues are critical. The best way to convey those critical nonverbals is in person. Obviously, that is more challenging in a pandemic. However, DickersonBakker’s recent study of Major Donors in the Wake of COVID-19 indicates that many donors are willing to meet in person. In fact, 76% of donors in our study indicated they would entertain an in-person meeting this fall. The key is to meet in safe ways such as outside, indoors where ventilation is good and distance can be maintained, or—if necessary—inside wearing a mask.
Zoom, phone, mail, email, and texting are all valuable fundraising tools. However, they will never replace the impact of in-person meetings. So, don’t lose the impact of 55% of your influence. Call your donors, ask them how they could most comfortably and safely meet in person, then go visit with your donors. Leverage the Power of 55%.
Dissatisfied with your fundraising results? DickersonBakker clients are meeting with donors and raising money despite the pandemic. Contact us today to elevate your fundraising impact.