Do you want to dramatically improve your relationships with – and gifts from – your individual donors?
Strengthen Connections with your best donors.
If you know who your top prospective donors are, you can create individual strategies for strengthening your connections with them, and, when the time is ripe, asking for a gift that will transform the organization. Greater involvement leads to greater commitment, and greater commitment leads to larger gifts. So let’s make it happen.
Case Study: A year ago, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps had a new executive director, and an underdeveloped major gifts program. After a series of carefully scripted meetings with top donors, the organization is in the early stages of a $1M campaign to double the number of volunteers serving the poor.
Empower Your Board to engage in fundraising.
If you have a board who are able to introduce you to prospects, let’s make them comfortable opening their rolodexes. The first step is to assure the board members that you are not going to ambush their friends with a solicitation the first time you meet (No kissing on the first date!). The next step is to help board members craft a conversation that focuses on respect for the prospect, the introducer, and the organization’s work.
Case Study: The National Catholic Partnership on Disability had a high powered board – two boards, in fact. They asked me to help involve the board members in fund raising. The result? A “Friends of NCPD” program that generated over 40 gifts of $1,000, and a matching gift of $10,000, in the first year.
Share Your Vision and listen for opportunities.
If you can imagine your organization growing dramatically in the coming several years, let’s talk about how to make it happen. Most comprehensive campaigns begin with a “quiet phase,” where gifts are solicited from the most likely and most intimate prospects. But before the quiet phase, insert a “listening” phase. Share the vision with your best donors and prospects, and ask their help in refining it. You may be amazed at the insights, and level of enthusiasm, that get sparked by these discussions.
Find Buried Treasure in your mailing list.
If you suspect that there is “buried treasure” in your mailing list, you need a strategy for transforming your relationships with those donors. The avalanche of newsletters, action alerts, solicitations, and annual reports is not enough. You need to sit down to a face to face with your top prospects.
Case Study: A year ago, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s development program consisted of an annual appeal letter. Through an energetic program of personal contact and small events, they created a “Friends of CSC” program which generated over $30,000 in gifts of $1000 – $5,000 in its first year. They are now contemplating a major capital campaign.
Hire the Best People to staff your development office.
If you have a vacancy in your development office, let’s talk about what your fund raiser will need to accomplish great things for your organization. I am not a head hunter – I am a fund raiser with 25 years of experience, including dramatic successes and equally dramatic fiascos. That experience equips me to read between the lines of a resume, anticipate potential chemistry problems before the contract is signed, and recommend an orientation program and benchmarks that will equip the new hire for success.