Imagine that your dearest friend announces that he is engaged to someone that he just met yesterday. How would you react? You’d probably chastise him by calling him foolish and reckless. You’d tell him that he just didn’t know enough about this person and that it was too soon for such a big commitment!
Why is it that we’re wise enough to know that human relationships take time to develop, but we expect donor prospects to make an overnight commitment to our mission? Just like a romantic relationship, donor commitments take time to move from acquaintances to friendship and finally to a full-blown commitment. Often these commitments take years to develop. And just like a romance, rushing your donor into a commitment too soon can lead to the demise of the relationship.
So what can you do to fan the flames of romance without being so eager that you extinguish the donor’s interest? Here are a few tips to grow your relationship:
Listen more than you talk. It’s easy for a donor to fall in love with an organization that really listens to its needs and motivations, and acts accordingly.
Remember that information breeds interest. Find subtle and unique ways to share new information about your organization with that potential donor. Make sure that they receive your newsletter and that they are linked into your social media outlets.
Point out how you would make a perfect match. Go the extra mile to make sure that the donor sees how your mission lines up with their interests. Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious to donors unless you point it out.
Pay attention to the donor’s cues. Has your potential donor shown an increased interest in your organization? It may be time to take the relationship to the next level.
By following these steps and being patient, your organization can develop a long-term relationship with a key donor.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yolanda brings international experience to Lighthouse Counsel where she served as the Development Director of Queen’s College, and most recently as the Executive Director for Hands For Hunger in Nassau, Bahamas. She is active with her church, Bahamas Harvest Church, and co-leads an organization focused on teaching leadership, providing mentors and promoting high self-esteem in girls of color.