For Impact


Virtual Visits: Higher Access, Lower Fidelity

Daily Nuggets | | Kerry Suddes

At For Impact, we are assuming that some form of social distancing and travel restrictions are here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

Here is a simple reframe we’ve been using to help clients make the conceptual leap to even more virtual visits and virtual experiences.

Challenge: Lower fidelity.
Opportunity: Higher access.

In many, if not all, circumstances we still can’t go meet with funders for a 1:1 conversation. We can’t bring prospects to our sites for visits. 

So, this leaves two options.

  1. Wait until a time when we can do that. 
  2. Embrace virtual visits and experiences. 

The challenge most people bring up is that ‘it’s not the same as being in person.’ 

Of course it’s not! It’s a much lower fidelity experience. You can’t pick up context clues in the lobby, or share engagement tools in person. 

But there is a flipside opportunity.

Because we’ve been relegated to a largely virtual world, this gives us greater access to individuals and audiences.

  • Funders who only met in person in New York, are now willing to meet by video conference. (By the way, they laugh at Zoom just as much as you and I… but they embrace it, just like we do too!)
  • Calendars are much easier to work with. You’re not trying to schedule a meeting four weeks out. With the fluid world, we are often scheduling conversations with key prospects 2-3 days out!
  • Greater audiences! Instead of waiting until we can get the prospect to our site, we’re simply using the current constraints as an acceptable (and accessible) way to bring the site to them through virtual tours, virtual experiences, and virtual gatherings.

We’re all still figuring out virtual (to some extent). But the world is accepting of the virtual wonkiness. It’s accepting of the lower fidelity experience (right now) and if we embrace that it can be an enormous opportunity.

Some other coaching nuggets we’ve been offering around this:

  • Embrace the medium and laugh at the medium. Don’t try to make your visit perfect. Acknowledge that you’re still adjusting to the medium. Think of the entire outreach as a DRAFT!
  • Try some things. You can’t mess up right now. The world will give you a grace that it would not be extending if you tried these formats in the fall of 2019.
  • The brain is the brain. The deep brain does not distinguish between a Zoom conversation and an in-person meeting. Mirror neurons in our brains fire based on words and faces (not feet :). Just as we did not evolve to connect by Zoom, neither did we evolve to sit around a conference table in suits.