Step #1: Identify
First, you’ll want to identify prospects who have the potential to become donors to your organization. Prospects may include friends and colleagues of your current donors, board members, committee members, and other stakeholders. Consider former board members and event attendees. Don’t be afraid to ask your board members to reach out to their personal connections. If your board has trouble identifying their referrals use this Sphere of Influence tool as an exercise during a board meeting.
Board members can participate in this step of the fundraising process by opening the door to the eventual ask. They introduce the organization to the prospect. They can tell prospects about the history of the organization and share their enthusiasm for the organization’s mission to encourage giving. This provides the organization with instant credibility. Opening the door to the first date and connecting the organization to cultivation by making personal contacts with prospects.
Step #2: Cultivate
Now that you have a prospect the dating phase begins — cultivation. The number 1 goal of cultivation is building a relationship. Cultivation is everything that happens between the time you identify a person as a prospect for your organization until the time you make the first ask. Check out my blog on The Top Six Ways to Cultivate Donors.
Step #3: Solicit
Next, you will solicit a gift. Or in our dating analogy ask for their hand in marriage. There is no set rule on how long the cultivation phase should last. A great tip to keep in mind is the larger the ask the longer time should spend cultivating.
With major gifts, face-to-face solicitations reign king. Board members can contribute to fundraising efforts by accompanying staff members on face-to-face solicitations. When making the ask, there are many things board members should do.
The staff should make sure the prospect knows in advance he or she will be receiving a visit from a board member who is very passionate about the organization and who will ask for a generous donation. Therefore, the board member should be passionate about the organization.
In addition, the board and staff should do their homework before making the visit. The board member should know the prospect’s interest, giving history, and the appropriate amount to ask for; don’t ask for $5,000 if the prospect can give $5 million.
If possible, a staff member should accompany the board member on the solicitation. The staff member will likely be more familiar with the organization’s history and finances and will be better able to answer specific questions. Having a third person at the meeting can make the solicitation more comfortable for everyone because conversation tends to flow more freely. The two people attending the solicitation should meet in advance to determine who will do the asking and how much they will ask for.
Step #4: Steward
An organization’s fundraising responsibilities are not over once it has received a donation from a donor. The final stage of fundraising is stewardship — thanking the donor and maintaining a relationship that keeps the donor connected to the organization. Let the donor know the gift was appreciated and that it made a difference to the organization. Keep donors involved with the organization through invitations to special events or periodic updates from board members or senior staff members. By maintaining a relationship with previous donors, the organization increases its chance of receiving future gifts from these donors. Effective Stewardship continues to build the relationship between your donor and your organization. It keeps the donor committed to you just like in a relationship. Check out my blog post 26 Easy and Clever Ways to Thank Donors.
I hope this helps. Your feedback is appreciated. Let me know how your organization is following the fundraising steps. Leave a comment below. Sharing is caring.
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