Cultivation Builds Confidence and Yields Results
It was exciting to see, and frankly, I was a bit shocked. The campaign co-chair proclaimed to the campaign steering committee that she was over her apprehension of asking for money.
“I’m passionate about what these gifts will mean, and I now understand that I will probably have to have a few friends decline gifts on the way to some wonderful gifts,” she shared.
“And I just learned to say those suggested gift ranges,” she laughed.
This amazing leader had been in training. She probably didn’t realize it. For months, this client was in a pre-campaign cultivation mode, hosting friends and potential donors on tours. Through the tours, her confidence built and her ability to effectively share the story increased.
There is no substitute for effective and focused cultivation. It brings new donors into the fold, and it strengthens the bonds with existing donors. It also helps nurture staff and volunteers—coaching and training them for a campaign.
If you don’t have an ongoing awareness tour program, engaging your board and other key volunteers, start one today. Here are some keys:
- Orient your staff and key volunteers on the program, its goals and what role they will play.
- Update your top prospective donor list and identify those your board and other volunteers would be effective in hosting.
- Develop awareness tour scripts to include roles for staff, your board/volunteer hosts and ideally someone who has benefited from your organization. Also develop talking points to invite someone for a tour and for the follow-up call. Tailor options to the interests of potential donors.
- Review those scripts and practice—ensure the team is comfortable, questions and listening time are built in and the tour lasts ideally no longer than an hour.
- Find the right setting(s) for a few photos along the way and secure a photographer.
- Plan for follow-up procedures including “thank you” notes, photos from the tour and a call to see if there are any questions.
- Discern if a small gift is appropriate—the best is one that is tied to your mission.
There is nothing like seeing your great work first-hand! Having an ongoing awareness tour program will lead to greater success with annual fundraising and planned giving and will set the stage where you have sufficient qualified prospects when you will address a compelling need through a major campaign.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.