What Is Your Strategy to Make and Keep Connections?
I need to be better about following some of the counsel we give clients. I truly love connecting with people, getting to know them and helping them achieve their goals. And when that results in a new or renewed client relationship — a win/win — all the better!
But sometimes I do a lousy job of ensuring that I am connecting with enough folks — and the right ones — on a regular basis. A business coach called that my pipeline plan, something I need to work on.
We counsel fundraisers to maintain strategic portfolios of donors and prospective donors, and to set goals on the number of visits to include cultivation, prospecting and asks. But I can get so busy with the day-to-day and the incoming calls, emails, visits, projects and other opportunities that I am not strategic about allocating my time for visits (as well as calls, emails and social-media interactions) and to whom I reach out.
For my business, I need to be in front of the right prospective clients or the right people who can connect me with them. I've learned the hard way that out of sight truly can be out of mind. It's the same with donors and prospective donors.
Be sure that you allocate time and have prioritized plans for visiting with:
- Donors: to thank them, keep them engaged and deepen those relationships — and invite them to invest again.
- Prospective donors: to continue the process of nurturing relationships and prequalifying those you hope can contribute to your mission's accomplishments.
- Influencers: to reach out to friends, colleagues, staff, volunteers, donors, board members and beyond to continually work to build your pipeline of prospective donors.
- Peers and mentors: Whose advice do you value, and who do you leave feeling energized and challenged?
- Mentees: Have a plan to give back, helping some fundraisers grow professionally.
- Team members: No matter what role you play, be sure you have a strategy for connecting with those you work with and in other departments — often especially in finance or program — on whose help, influence and information you rely.
- Potential colleagues: If you are in a position to hire or if you want to be, make a list of five to 10 professionals you would like to have on your team. Get to know them better, and nurture the relationships.
Relationships can be magical when nurtured. Be sure that you are focused on the right professional relationships to ensure success for you and the worthy cause you represent!
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.