My Favorite Travel Apps
Most fundraisers travel at least some of the time. Many of us are “road warriors” who travel at least 25%-75% of the time. After almost two years of 50% travel, I have found some iPhone apps to be nearly indispensable to me for smooth and safe travel. Here's 10 of my favorites in no particular order. All of these are free to download.
I’m not really sure how I would have done this job before Google maps! I would have a stack of old MapQuest print-outs as tall as Moby Dick without it. I’m a bit of a control freak and I hate being late, so this app is great for me because I can plan what traffic is likely to be at the specific time of day I plan to be somewhere. I also like that I can select car, public transport or eve walking.
Furthermore, I use this at home when planning a trip to select restaurants convenient to the donor’s home or work, find centrally located hotels, and assess how far constituents live from a metro center I’m visiting to determine whether I could make it that far to see them. Bottom line, it is a crucial tool for my work as a fundraiser.
Clio is a landmark and history app. It senses where you are and tells you which historic landmarks and museums are near you. It’s fun when you have some extra time to fill between meetings or when you are traveling with kids. I’ve learned a great deal about cities around the country that I wouldn’t have learned without Clio.
Feeling like Mexican? How about Lebanese? Just type it into Yelp and it will tell you where the closest restaurant of that type is to you, whether it is open now and how much it is likely to cost. The ratings and reviews are good too if you can’t decide.
Lyft is my new favorite app. I’m from the South and wouldn’t know how to hail a cab if my life depended on it. So, when I needed a cab, I would walk to the nearest taxi stand. Now, wherever I am, Lyft gets me to my next destination. I’m so excited that they are expanding into the South now too.
Lyft usually arrives within 5 minute or less, shows me my driver’s picture and tells me the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle. It texts me with a “bing!” to let me know when my driver arrives. I don’t have to pull out a credit card, as it is saved in the app. When the ride is over, I pull up the app to add a tip and the receipt arrives in my email inbox.
And if you are traveling with a group or with children or strollers/luggage, Lyft will let you select a larger vehicle so you are sure to have space for everyone and everything.
The Hilton app keeps all my reservations in one place. I can check in the day before I arrive, letting them know when I’ll be there. I usually can select my room in the app. It’s nice to have the addresses and phone numbers of the hotels at my fingertips.
Airline Specific Apps
United and Virgin have great airline apps. You can check in and even pay for your baggage via the app. Both of these have the ability to use a digital boarding pass on your phone. Delta and American also have apps but they aren’t quite at the level of the others I mentioned.
Quick and easy and more reliable than Skype on the road. Essential for keeping in touch with my kids and my husband when I’m not home.
I love audiobooks. Hoopla Digital is a service you sign up for using your local library card. With my library, I can “check-out’ 8 titles per month via the app. They have e-books and videos too, but I like to use mine for audiobooks because you get more hours of content per check-out. Being able to download a specific title is a nice feature because then you can continue to listen even in airplane mode. I listen to fiction, non-fiction, business and personal development titles.
Your iPhone camera is good for so much more than just pretty pictures. I like to take photos of my parking space numbers at the airport or my hotel room number, so I don’t forget. You can snap photos of posters for events that you want to remember later. I also use my camera to take pictures of flowers and other little things that my daughter would love and I send them to her (via my husband or my mom) to let her know that I’m thinking about her.
For the school that I work for, showing up at donor meetings with a notebook or executive pad would be wildly too formal. But often, a donor will get energize and begin throwing out names of people I should meet or follow up with. The Notes app takes the place of paper. I also use it to jot down any ideas I might have when pulling out my journal at that moment would be a pain. I’ll get a ton of ideas as I’m listening to audiobooks (via Hoopla) and I use notes to record those on the go.
Are there other apps that I didn't list? What are your favorites?
As always, comments and questions are welcome and encouraged!
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This week's feature is an interview with Nick Foster, who serves as the Associate Director of Development for the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia. We covered a lot of topics, including how he plans his travel schedule, questions to ask on donor visits and how to stay connected to your children when traveling. And I learned about a very special bear in the process! Enjoy!
Q: How much do you travel for your position? How do you decide where to go?
A: I cover a total of 11 states, and two cities in Virginia (States: Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. Cities in Virginia: Lynchburg and Richmond).
To cover the territory effectively I visit one or more of the states in any given month. A trip could be “simply” traversing Los Angeles, or making the 600 mile trip from Minneapolis, MN to Chicago, IL via Rochester, MN, La Crosse, WI, Madison, WI, and Appleton, WI.
For the first twelve months in the role I divided my time, proportionally, between the states. For instance I visited California, with over 500 med alumni, four times; and Mississippi, with just over 100 med alumni, for just three days. Now, as I’ve qualified individuals, and gift discussions have developed my travel schedule is determined more by these conversations than simply trying to visit a territory.
Q: What's your theory on travel planning? Get the anchor visit first or just go for it?
My theory is “You’re not going to raise money, that often, from behind a desk. Get on the road and engage those individuals who have shown they are invested in your program by the giving of their time, talent or treasure.”
I subscribe to the “book it and then secure the visits method”. Working with physicians everything can be very last minute. Trips generally come together a couple of days out. As I sit here writing this (Thursday) I’m going to Michigan for four days next week, I have seven confirmed visits, three “I’d love to see you, call me when you’re in town”, and two “I won’t know my schedule until Monday, call me then”. You just have to do it and if you have spare time when you’re on the road, you can always focus on your moves management plan for donors who aren’t in the area.
Q: What are your favorite questions for donors on a discovery visit?
A: The general theme of the conversation is to get to know the individual. I usually I like to hear about their current relationship and feelings towards UVa, what their time was like in school, were there any mentors, why did they go into medicine, how did they get to UVa, where did they do there residency, how did they ended up in the city they are currently working, how long have they been in the area, family and pastimes. I like to ask if they have any questions, or if they keep up with the news from the school.
Most importantly, I always thank them for their support and ask what inspires their philanthropy, and ask if there is anything I can do for them.
Q: What are your best 2nd visit questions? How do approach a donor to see if they will entertain a proposal?
If the first visit has gone well, then I try and interact with the alumni between visits. This might be sending articles in their practice area, telling them how their giving makes a difference, inviting them to events etc. (I use the fundraising software to remind me and then track these interactions, try not to go rouge with shadow databases!)
On a second visit I might ask “you mentioned in our first visit that you’d received a scholarship and that gave you the opportunity to come out of medical school virtually debt free. I hope that gave you the opportunity to select the area of medicine that interested you the most. The financial aid package that you likely received was most likely due in part to a generous alumni, like yourself, making a commitment to the school and endowing a scholarship fund. Doc, you’ve been a loyal and generous supporter and I was wondering if we could have a conversation about ways that you could set up your own scholarship and give students who are coming out of medial school now a similar opportunity to the one you experienced.”
Q: What are your favorite travel loyalty programs?
Q: Tell me about Stuffed. What other things do you do to stay connected with your son while you are on the road?
Stuffed is a travelling bear that my son gave me. If you press his paw he says, in Henry’s voice, “Hi Dad, I love you and I miss you”. Stuffed sits in the passenger seat when we drive, and he loves having his photograph taken when we visit interesting places. You can follow him on Facebook at The Adventures of Stuffed the Talking Bear.
When I’m on the road I’d like to say that we Facetime each evening and I read him bedtime stories, but Henry isn’t interested in that! I might get a quick “Hi Dad, I’m going to play, bye Dad.” I do try and get a good morning “hello”, and check in after school to hear how his day went. I also text pictures of Stuffed.
I also try and bring back a gift that is from the area, for instance I brought him the book The Three Little Javelinas from Phoenix, and Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding from New Orleans. He also just got a Cub’s t-shirt from Chicago!
More about Nick Foster: Nick started his working life in the music industry. For six years he worked for a record label and events company. In this role he oversaw 120 events a year and was part of a team that had success with getting a record in the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart. It wasn’t until he moved stateside that he decided it was time to take his career in a different direction. Following a short spell at Waffle House, everyone should work as a line cook or waitress at some point in their lives, he ventured into the nonprofit world.Nick started working for a small school in Mobile, AL that served children with Autism. Under Nick’s leadership the school successfully grew its annual fundraising totals by over 150%. After a brief stop in Hattiesburg, MS at The University of Southern Mississippi, Nick found himself at The University of Virginia, working in the School of Medicine. Nick’s role at UVa is to work with enthusiastic alumni who want to partner with the University to make the student experience and our worldwide research reputation as strong as possible. Nick will play a significant role in the University's upcoming Third Century Campaign.
(I'm back!! Last week was crazy but the full moon has passed and hopefully the insanity level has slowed in all areas of my life.
I've decided to make Motivation Monday into "Reasons why I love being a fundraiser" for the next ten weeks. It will challenge me to articulate the reasons why I love my profession and hopefully it will inspire and motivate you to love your career.
My first reason why I love fundraiser is the travel. For a long time, I stayed away from the travel and thought it would hold me back in my career. But in my current position, I am the lone professional fundraiser for an institution and I must travel. Now, I embrace the travel and see it as a benefit. Sometimes I travel with my husband and kids (we homeschool) and sometimes I travel alone. Either way, in this past year, I've been able to visit amazing places and meet amazing donors. (All photos above were taken by me on work trips.)
I was able to have breakfast by the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara one morning before flying home -- a rare contemplative moment of solitude with nature for this busy mom.
I've taken my family on a train from Oakland to Portland and we woke up in a winter wonderland watching eagles dive into lakes amongst snow-covered Douglas firs. I feel certain these are experiences that we would not have had if I wasn't a fundraiser.
And this literary nerd has gotten to see the pew that Ralph Waldo Emerson used to sit in when he attended church in Concord. I've taken my 7 year old daughter to see the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz at the Smithsonian. She also got to visit FAO Schwartz before it closed forever. Of course, we could have done this on our own as a family, but it isn't likely we would have been able to afford it.
These magic moments happened because I am in a industry that still depends on a values face-to-face contact. Traveling to visit with the amazing folks that support the institution that I work for is its own reward and its an amazing perk.
Stay tuned for another reason next Monday and more great content coming up all week.
Most fundraisers have to travel for at least some portion of their time. My daughter (now 7) was very spirited and attached to me. So, I didn't travel without her until she was 3 and a half. We are are very lucky because my husband is a stay-at-home dad and he was happy to travel with me to conferences a few times a year. Since we homeschool, they still travel with me quite a bit
Luckily, my son (almost 2) is a bit more independent and doesn't mind short-term separations. This means that I travel without my kids more and more these days. And it's important to me to keep connected to my kids when I'm on the road. Some days it's really tough because my schedule is packed, morning to night. Other times, I'm just exhausted from time changes and travel delays.
Here are some quick ideas that have worked for me to stay connected with my kids when I'm on the road.
1) Facetime and Skype
This one is obvious but it wasn't that long ago that these tools weren't widely available. Now, they are available to use almost anytime and anywhere on your phone. I can call from the airport, hotel or even when I'm out and about. These tools are especially important for my son who is too small to talk on the phone or understand when I send messages in any other format. With my daughter, I get updates on what she did for school work and her current projects and with my son I mostly sing songs that we sing at home, etc.
2) Flower power
My daughter and I have a thing that whenever she's not with me, I take pictures of beautiful flowers and send them to her dad (or sometimes grandmother) so she can see the flowers. But, really it is just a confirmation that she's continually on my mind and she gets to be a part of the trip. Beyond flowers, I also take pictures of anything that I think she would love to see or would find interesting. (Photo above was one of the pictures that I took and sent to my daughter while I was in Boston today.) I took a trip this week and she got 5-6 flower pictures, a picture of a replica ship from the Boston Tea Party, and a picture of the pastry cases in a fabulous cannoli shop.
If your kids are like mine, they have ENOUGH knickknacks. Our fridge isn't magnetic and I can't abide the idea of trying to keep a snowglobe from breaking in my luggage. So, we have a few preferred types of souvenirs: pencils (that she can use for her schoolwork and be reminded of our travels), patches (which we sew on her travel backpack), and educational books or coloring books.
Do you have travel rituals that keep you connected with your kids when you are doing work travel? Any additional good ideas for the little kids?
I love to learn new tricks in MS Excel. Learning about how to use filters and specifically the "filter by color" function has helped me to stay organized in my work. In this video, I show you how I use Excel to get my visits for donor trips, including how to use filters and "filter by color".
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Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.