We often hear how hard it is to ask for money, but rarely does anyone tell us how hard it is to generate donor prospect leads or to educate those prospects. In fact, if you are successful at generating leads and educating them– closing becomes the easiest part. We have been using the above model as a simple way of explaining successful individual donor cultivation. Here is how it works:
Lead Generate — Your fundraising strategy needs to include ways to introduce your cause to different target audiences. Here, volume counts. You want to find opportunities that allow you to give a brief overview of your cause as well as give your audience the opportunity to opt-in and learn more about your organization’s work. Most importantly, these are opportunities to make a connection and that is done by meeting your audience where their in terms of their values and beliefs as opposed to trying to push lots of information at them. The goal here is to make a connection, listen, and give them an opportunity to continue the relationship by opting in for an experience to educate them about the organization.
Educate — Once your prospect has opted-in you can begin to educate them about your organization. We have a few rules here. Again, don’t overwhelm. Use a story to illustrates the specific value your organization creates, rather than giving them a laundry list of programs and services. Also, make the case. Do this by telling your audience what you intend to accomplish in the future in terms of the community impact you wish to have. The goal here is to educate them, but also to learn about how your audience relates to your cause.
Close — By this point, you should know enough about your donor prospect(s), that you are ready to position the ask in terms of their interests and the impact that your organization expects to achieve. Here you are making the connection between the two. No matter what the reaction is (yes, no, maybe), it’s important to make sure that you have a follow-up plan. This allows the relationship to continue, and as long as the donor prospect or donor is willing to continue the relationship, you should always be creating opportunities to educate them.