Don’t Be Persistent Your Donors… Be Consistent
I think I’m changing my language on how a major gift officer’s approach with a donor who is difficult to engage should be. For years, both Richard and I have said you should be patient, yet persistent with a donor… eventually you will come together.
That word “persistent” always had me thinking about pursuit. It’s like I’m after something that I have to get.
Then marketing guru Seth Godin wrote a blog post titled, “Persistence vs. Consistent.” It was short, so I’ll share the whole thing:
“Persistence is sort of annoying.
Consistency, on the other hand, is the happy twin brother of persistence.
Consistent with your statements, consistent in the content you create, consistent in the way you chip away at the problem you’re seeking to solve.
Persistence can be selfish, but consistency is generous.
And the best thing is that you only have to make the choice to be consistent once. After that, it’s simply a matter of keeping your promise.”
I think Seth has it right. If, as a major gift officer, you can be consistent in your approach with how you work and develop relationships with donors, you don’t have to view it as a game of pursuit with the donor.
It’s a bit of a nuance, but as Seth states, “Persistence can be selfish, but consistency is generous.” I really like that. You often feel the pressure to “stay on that donor” if they don’t’ get right back to you. But, if you use a consistent approach to your work with all donors, by honoring them with openness and respect, the eventual engagement of that donor will be in their time and be much more fruitful.
This is one reason why, at Veritus, we feel working within a structure is so important for major gifts. Major gifts, within a structure, works because it helps you be consistent in your approach with a donor.
For example, when we work with major gift officers to help qualify a caseload pool of donors into a portfolio, there are specific steps to adhere to as you seek to understand if that donor wants a deeper relationship with your organization. There are between seven to nine engagement strategies to execute for each donor.
Why so many? Because we know that some donors take time to allow you to reach them. This structured approach with all donors is incredibly consistent and creates way less anxiety for the major gift officer because it allows the donor, in their time, to say yes or no to you without feeling you have to “chase them down.”
And the major gift officer knows that some of their donors will just take much longer to connect with and that is expected. In other words, you don’t have to be anxious with donors taking their time.
Pursuit of a donor feels more like a game and something to conquer. Consistency with a donor is more honoring and will create trust and openness.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.