Wish you knew how to build and deepen relationships with people who can advance your issue or cause—like major gift prospects—but you just don’t how?
Fundraisers who work in small development shops are frequently overwhelmed by the details of grant writing, direct mail, and event planning. I’ve been there, and I bet you have too.
As a result, you can end up leaving a lot of money on the table. And you marketers face the same pressures from a different set of challenges!
I work with so many fundraisers in so many different organizations that I now know this—building and deepening relationships is simple but it’s not easy. Until you’ve nabbed a success or two, starting to court big-time partners or board members, or launching a major gifts program, can seem like distant dreams.
But you can bring those dreams to life. Here’s the secret: The most important thing to keep in mind is that fundraising is about relationships!
Consider how you build a relationship with a new friend. You:
- Meet because you have someone or something in common
- Get together for coffee to get to the next level, such as learning what more you have in common
- Schedule another get together
- Share a deeper level of confidence, perhaps ask for advice
- Talk on the phone or via email or Facebook (reinforcement)
- Rinse and repeat steps 3-5!
Building relationships (or cultivation) for major gifts and other types of support works the same way!
Take a look at this sample cultivation plan from Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops.
|February||Invite on a tour||Board member|
|April||Invite to gala||Development director|
|May||Email with program update||Development director|
|June||Invite for face-to-face meeting||Executive director|
|August||Invite to volunteer||Development director|
|September||Handwritten note update||Executive director|
|October||Solicitation meeting||Executive director/board member|
|December||Holiday card||Executive director|
Use this as a guide to help you create your own plan to develop relationships with prospective major gift donors:
What’s holding you back from building these relationships and raising major gifts? Please share here and I’ll respond a.s.a.p.!
Note from Nancy: Amy’s guidebook is fantastic, and I recommend you grab it now. The book is already discounted on Amazon.com, where I gave it a 5-star review.