Sunday, November 21, 2010

From Prospect to Donor

Everyone thinks that by finding a wealthy individual an organization has suddenly won the lottery--sad to say this is only the beginning.  Similar to dating, finding a donor is like exchanging phone numbers.  It is where the relationship starts and if you do not give the relationship time to develop, it will also be where it stops.  Using the dating analogy, donor cultivation can be summed up in five steps:

1.       You see each other across a crowded room.  Both the prospect and the organization see something in the other that sparks their interest.  The donor may be a patient or a parent involved in your organization.  Somehow their path has crossed yours.  They are interested in your mission and you are interested in them.
2.      You exchange numbers.  Both the prospect and the organization want to know more about the other.  This step manifests itself as increased donor research on the part of the organization using a variety of tools, including:  anecdotal data from others who know your prospect, internet research, or even packaged products such as Wealthpoint or WealthEngine or the Researcher’s Edge. 
3.      You plan your first date.  The organization encourages the prospect to become more involved in the organization either through invitations to planned events or a special meeting set up to better inform the donor of the organizations’ mission and plans for the future.  And while you may want to only talk about “yourself” or the organization, the key is to listen.  Listen to the donor’s specific interests. 
4.      Flowers, candy, and courting.  If you listened well enough on the first date, you will know how to follow-up with your prospect.  Is he an art lover? Did she just have her gall bladder removed?  Whatever the case, find a way to reconnect via a note attached to an interesting article about gall stones, an invitation to see the upcoming school play, or a strategically timed e-mail to let him/her know that you enjoyed the time you spent together.  Courting, as in romance, is by far the most time consuming and involved piece of the puzzle. 
5.      The First Kiss.  Once you have courted your prospect, it is time to make an ask.  With sweaty hands and the fear of rejection…you move in for “the moment”.  But unlike romance, this is not spontaneous and if done right it will not be a one night stand.  It is done after careful research, knowing just the amount to ask for, and what project will most closely resonate with the donor.

And we all know that once you get past the first kiss…if you play your cards right, stay committed to the relationship and continue to demonstrate interest, it is not long before you hit a home run!  Changing a prospect to a donor is simply about being a great listener and a good storyteller.  You need to listen to the prospect's story and be willing to share with them the story of the organization.  It is only when you determine where these stories intersect that you will truly see a match made in heaven!

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