Know the Gatekeepers — and the Rules for Fundraising Success
They can be formal and informal. Influential advisors can serve as gatekeepers to your proposal or inquiry because even in casual conversation they can shut it down.
A client just asked me if a donor ever allows direct access or if it is always through his family foundation chief. I had to think. I had developed a relationship with direct access, but for most, it is through the foundation. But my visits are never directly about gifts or a client, and I didn't want to violate that and lose my access and relationship. We developed a strategy where the client would interact with the donor face to face and she could softly ask for a visit.
We were recently interacting with a major foundation for a client — a closely held foundation. It wasn't like any other we had worked with. Major assets, but its functions seemed decades behind — even an antiquated application form. We began to strategize how we could develop a relationship with the foundation head. Our client had some access to a few of the trustees, but we needed to get a better sense of the dynamics.
We are working to reach out to the trustees and to the foundation director.
We all have gatekeepers and influencers in our lives — and so do our donors. Some are formal, and some are informal. They can be family, friends, staff or professional advisors.
As you develop strategy — your moves management — be sure to learn who they are and even if you feel you have a great relationship with the donor. Don't get caught surprised! Know the gatekeepers, and nurture relationships with them!
Also be sure you know the rules — formal and informal. We all have them — things we will be OK with in a giving process and things that may prompt us to walk away from a gift or an organization.
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.