How do successful capital campaigns land the big gifts?
Through smart fundraisers who build close, happy and warm relationships with their major donors. These fundraisers who deeply involve their donor prospects.
You may be working hard right now to develop a relationship with an important capital campaign prospect.
- How do you manage to grow her interest in your cause?
- How do you get back in front of her? Can you find a reason to visit with her again?
You may have a whole pool of donors who are serious prospects for a major capital campaign gift. Are you wondering what to do with them next?
How to Develop Major Donor Prospects for your Campaign
You want to create a series of positive, repeated contacts with your wonderful prospect. Each positive contact builds on the previous one.
There is a consistent drumbeat of repeated, lovely connections between you and your prospect — and suddenly — Voila! A happy relationship is blossoming!
What happens every time you make a happy connection with your prospect?
You’re expanding and developing her personal connection to your cause. You are making YOUR project much much bigger on her radar screen.
Each time you make a meaningful connection with your prospect, it’s called a “move.”
In fundraising, we plan our moves carefully. We lay out a series of steps (moves) that bring our prospects closer to us.
Tracking your moves helps guide your cultivation process.
Moves Management is a widely used system, developed by fundraising gurus Dave Dunlop and Jerry Panas, for managing the major gift process. It helps you organize and plan your cultivation steps with prospective donors month after month to prime them to be asked.
It’s a wonderful way to organize what can be a vague and uncertain process.
You use your Moves Management system to lay out your smart plan for future contacts with your prospect. A plan of moves for a donor will likely include several people who are important to the donor.
Think of it as creating a team of people organized around each of your important donors. And think of yourself as the manager of that team. You will be in on some of the meetings or moves with the donor, but you may just be facilitating an interaction between the donor and someone else on that donor’s team.
7 Typical Moves with a Prospective Donor
1. Invite the donor for a personal visit after they make a gift.
Explain that you want to personally thank them and get to know them better:
- “Thank you so much! Why did you choose to give?”
- “I’d love to hear how you came to be involved with our organization.”
- “It’s my job to know our donors. I’d love to take you out for coffee and hear your story.”
2. Schedule an advice visit.
Asking for advice is an excellent way to get an appointment with your capital campaign prospects. Pick up the phone and ask:
- “Can I come pick your brain?”
- “Here’s our challenge and our plan for meeting the challenge. What do you think?”
Advice visits are just about the easiest way to get in front of a prospect and develop their interest in your work. (I LOVE Advice Visits!) I’ve written extensively about them at my Fired-Up Fundraising blog:
- How Advice Visits Can Open Any Door in Town »
- Three Rules for Successful Advice Visits »
- Questions to Ask in an Advice Visit »
3. Set up a behind-the-scenes tour of your work.
A tour is a fabulous cultivation move. The personal experience almost always touches the heart of donors. My fundraising colleagues often say, “If we can just get people here, we’ve got them hooked forever.”
4. Invite donors to special events or briefings.
I like private briefings and socials. They are the very best for bringing key players together. I prefer them small, exclusive and personal.
For one of my capital campaign clients, we invited all the people who were interviewed in the Feasibility Study to a private briefing about my findings. We included a social hour which was very popular.
5. Organize a dinner or meeting for the donor with your CEO.
One of my favorite clients, the St. John Medical Foundation in Oregon, hosts a dinner each month with the hospital’s CEO.
Board members can host these dinners in their homes. It’s been a smashing success — creating terrific moves on prospects and also engaging board members at a much deeper level.
6. Send special “Insiders” mailing.
A VIP mailing list provides the perfect way to make people feel special. Create a list of important donors and perhaps community leaders.
Send them an occasional VIP briefing by your CEO. You’d be surprised how many people notice and appreciate the personal attention.
7. Put them on a committee.
I think the #1 way to cultivate an important donor is to put him or her on a campaign planning committee (or some other committee) involved with the campaign.
The beauty of a committee is that you have a reason to be in touch with them all the time. You can find out what they are thinking and how they feel about your cause easily.
The Bottom Line
The goal of your donor cultivation program is to build a relationship with your donors so they want to give.
Be sure you create a specific plan that has a series of action steps for each donor. Your capital campaign is too important to leave your donor relationships to chance.
Without a clear plan for each high level donor, effective cultivation may not happen. Create a deliberate, well-thought out plan and then make it happen. You’ll enjoy the results. 🙂
Comments? Questions? Thoughts? Leave one below.