Imagine yourself with a portfolio of donors that you have taken the time to get to know well. You’ve zeroed in on your top tier donor. She’s been giving consistently and has tremendous capacity. How to you get her to the finish line?
One word: cultivation.
Real estate may be about location but in fundraising cultivation is king. Cultivation requires a solid plan. Your goal is to be constantly be learning more about your donor to deepen the relationship while delivering outrageous customer service that exceeds your donor's expectations and delights them.
Ready to move your top tier donor up the giving ladder?
Step one: Identify her interests.
I’m going to illustrate this process with my own experience with a donor, we’ll call him Mr. Smith. He loved our mission, empowering girls in math, science engineering and technology and his giving quickly grew from a $1,000 annual gift to $5,000. Mr. Smith was a millionaire with great capacity. A capital campaign was a few years into our future, but I knew I wanted him to make a lead gift. I researched everything I could on Mr. Smith and invited him for a personal tour of our facility to learn more about his interests. Just his interests - no solicitation.
I planned our visit like a wedding planner plans a wedding. I wanted Mr. Smith to have such a great time he’d tell everyone. I produced a fun, engaging and emotional experience to connect him personally to our work. He met a graduate and did a science experiment extracting DNA from strawberries using alcohol. He was moved by the testimonial and enjoyed rolling up his sleeves to experience how hands on our work was. I made sure we had a quiet comfortable space to visit. I left nothing to chance and you shouldn’t either. Plan every last detail of your donor’s experience.
Step two: Create a plan to nurture her interests and deepen the relationship.
I learned in our visit that he was a futurist. I created a high tech advisory council to advise us on building our future computer lab and asked him to chair it. He filled it with high tech C-level friends, we met over lunch in our space and engaged attendees with in person testimonials from graduates and solicited their advice on cloud computing trends that might impact our technology planning. I discovered Mr. Smith made giving decisions jointly with his wife so I began cultivating Mrs. Smith and recruited her to chair our capital campaign steering committee.
Step three: Make the ask.
After years of cultivation and increasingly larger gifts we asked and received a 6 figure gift from Mr. And Mrs. Smith.
If you don’t know where you are going any path will take you there. Set a revenue goal and build a strategic cultivation strategy for your donor and you WILL succeed. Today is your day. Your donor is waiting. So…get on your way!