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Live and In-Person. It Makes a Difference.

By October 31, 2012April 25th, 2014Donor Engagement, Nonprofits

When is the last time you gathered a group of your supporters to update them in person about your work?

When is the last time you allowed your supporters to ask you questions, uninterrupted, for an hour or more and then hung around after the group gathering to answer more questions one-on-one?


Last week, my spouse, Mark and I, were invited via email to a “town hall meeting” with Tim Westergren founder of Pandora a free, personalized streaming radio service. Tim was born in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & St. Paul but hasn’t lived here for more than 25 or so years. He’s traveling the country to make himself available to the Pandora supporter community: to tell the story of the founding and the vision of Pandora, to answer questions and to connect with real people.

As we sat in the standing room only of somewhere between 300 and 400 people I was mesmerized by Tim’s stories. He spoke like he was talking to each of us individually.

He answered questions that ranged from easy to really tough for more than an hour. And then he hung out to answer more questions one-on-one. He made himself available, didn’t shirk the tough questions and engaged people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. I was inspired and felt connected to a music “service” that I’d only vaguely given a passing thought to before.

That town hall meeting made the music service more real for me than any video or blog post or advertisement. I left that evening where no food or drinks were served, feeling totally connected to a larger group in the Twin Cities AND more interested in how I could better use the service. WOW.

Imagine if your organization, one that is changing and saving lives, held occasional town hall gatherings with your CEO, a key service provider, or a client? The hour or so could be an inspirational gathering to meet with the people who provide their time, talent, and financial resources to your work.

I have some coaching for you about what should happen in an informational session like this. Check out this post from the Withism’s archives for the details.

I often encourage in-person meetings when I’m delivering trainings or coaching sessions. But rarely have I seen, up close and personal, a live, in-person meeting that was more powerful, connecting, and of value.

I encourage you to add in-person “fire-side chats” or town hall meetings once or twice a year to your donor cultivation calendar. I guarantee you’ll see those supporters give more and become ambassadors for your organization at a whole new level.


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