Although we’ve never met, I consider Penelope Burke a mentor. Her research on donor-focused fundraising is comprehensive and validates the three tenants of my fundraising philosophy:
- Everything we do is about the donor’s experience.
- Fundraising is everyone’s responsibility.
- Treat every donor like a major donor.
Donors are not dollars. They are people. People who want to make a difference with their contribution of time, passion and money. Until you connect with your donors as philanthropists, you will not maximize your impact.
In my last blog post, I explored ways to use technology to connect with and create relationships with new donors. Today let’s talk more about cultivation and how to nurture relationships with individuals, organizations, and businesses that share a passion for your mission. A solid cultivation plan is critical to your long-term fundraising strategy.
There are two key elements to cultivation: communication and engagement.
By sharing information, images and impact statements with your new prospective donors, you paint the picture of possibility for them. They can imagine how they will create impact through an investment in your organization. The key here is to share these goodies with new and current donors, without asking them for anything! Did you know that the #1 reason people stop giving to an organization? They feel like they are being over-solicited. Sometimes simply sharing the information IS the ask.
Engagement opportunities allow new prospective donors the opportunity to get to know you and the organization better, to determine if your values align. Just as consumers purchase from businesses that they know like and trust, the same is true for philanthropic investments. Attending an informational event or participating in a volunteer opportunity establishes a deeper level of connection to the impact you are collectively creating. You get to demonstrate first-hand how you serve the community.
When you have spent quality time nurturing prospective donors and have invested in their experience, the invitation to invest in your work is easy! Now is the time to invite them to become a part of your community – a part of the solution to the problem you are solving – through financial investment in your organization. Why not suggest a modest recurring monthly gift? This creates reliable revenue for the organization and allows for continued connection and nurturing throughout the year.
I’ve had clients ask me if cultivation and stewardship activities are really worth the time. The answer is an unwavering YES! When you invest in your donors, and their desires to create change in the world you create long-term partnerships that result in increased revenue and sustainable funding.
If you want to chat more about how to better connect with donors, schedule a free Discovery Session with me HERE.