Getting back to basics – Get to Know Your Donors
The key to success in fundraising is building long term, deep and abiding relationships with people who have the capacity and propensity to give to your organisation either now or at some time in the future. Systems do not raise money, people do, and individuals only give money away to other individuals whom they enjoy and trust.
Fundraising is a 4 step process that takes time:
Research, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship.
Continuous cultivation is the process of moving people from a state of unawareness, to general awareness, to informed understanding, to sympathetic interest, to engagement, to commitment and finally to passionate advocacy. The task of cultivation is to move people along this continuum. Cultivation needs discipline. Ask yourself constantly “what am I doing with my top prospects”. Distinguish between activity and progress.
Great relationships in fundraising happen the same way great friendships happen. You get to know people and you share things with them. You become part of their lives and they become part of yours. Make them insiders to your organisation. They want to become 'family' which means they need to know about your organisation - warts and all.
Don't be afraid to share problems with them, and ask them to help resolve issues. The more a supporter feels like an insider, the greater the stake they have in the organisation and the larger the investment they can justify.
Put yourself in your donor's shoes
- Spend more time with the people who give you the most money and familiarise yourself with their thinking.
- Find out their motivation for giving to you and other organisations – ask them, listen and learn from it.
- The more you spend time with them, the more you will be able to identify other people like them.
- To build a stronger relationship with a friend you don’t need to buy expensive presents, you just need to spend more time with them.
- Careful and strategic cultivation pays-off, it sets the stage for easy and success 'asks'.