by Susan Bottum, Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions
Whether you are a CEO, Executive Director, or Development officer, one of your main priorities is to know your organization’s top donors. “Knowing” these key constituents goes beyond knowing their name, their spouse/partner name, where they live and work, etc. It means knowing what is important to them.
How did they get involved with your organization?
Why are they still engaged?
What roles do they play and why?
This year, make it a priority to get acquainted with your Top 10. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Identify your Top 10 and do your homework on each constituent:
- How long have they been engaged?
- Who introduced them to the organization (i.e.: a Board member)? Is that person still engaged? Are they still willing to play a role?
- What is the donor’s giving history? Is there a trend? Are any of the gifts restricted? If so, where are they designated?
- Develop a strategy for each:
- If the donor lives in the vicinity, give him/her a call or send an email to see if you can arrange a convenient time to meet. Offer to meet at their home or office – or – offer a tour of a program or residence.
- If the donor lives out of town (say, Florida), consider a visit. This may seem extravagant, but if you want top donors to continue to invest in the organization, you need to invest in them.
- Follow up and follow through. Schedule the visit.
- Prepare for your visit:
- Know what is important and identify questions you may have.
- Be ready to discuss your programs and provide concrete, compelling examples.
- Determine if they are ready for an “ask” – and be OK if they are not!
- Host the visit
- Thank them for the role they play.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Listen, listen, listen!
- Have a clear closing – whether or not there is an “ask”, you should provide the donor with a clear next step (“I will call you to schedule a tour”; “I will email you in May, when you are back in town”, etc.)
- Thank them again!
- Follow up as promised!
My intuition tells me that you will leave each of these visits feeling great and filled with a sense of pride for the organization and the work that you do every day. So what are you waiting for?