Just go Cultivate the Donors!


Just go Cultivate the Donors!

As I’ve whined about before on this blog, a fundamental problem I see with many organizations is related to board members simply not knowing organizational donors, and vice versa. It seems simple enough – “Just go out and cultivate the donors!” But it doesn’t happen.

Cultivation is easy to say and easy to understand. But sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to do. Here’s something tangible: board members can help by becoming the conduit through which donors receive information about the land trust. Be the bearer of news. Be the conductor of enthusiasm. Be an ambassador.

And here’s a concrete idea that can help. (This comes from Sand County Foundation, where I used to work.)

Each Friday afternoon, before you leave for the day, take a moment to draft a statement about the best thing that happened during the week (relevant to the land trust). It could be something that you know about, or something that you had a hand in. You are allowed to “who-what-where-when-how” the statement if you wish. You could also directly quote someone else, or tell a story in some other creative way. Draft at least one, and draft more than one if you are so moved.

There are only a couple of rules:
• The “nuggets” must be about something that actually happened. Not something that you were planning to happen, or nearly happened, or is about to happen in the future – they must be something that is already past tense.
• You are limited to five typed lines of text – or about 80 words.

Now assign somebody to collect these nuggets from each person each week. If you have staff, this is probably a staff member. If not, it could be a board member or volunteer. At the end of the month, s/he sifts through the entries and selects the best 6-8 statements. They should fit comfortably on one page. Dress them up in some way appropriate and mail them, or email them to each board member.

The one-page pdf document or email could easily reference photos, maps, and articles for more information if such are available. And they could invite feedback.

Board members can easily forward the email directly to their donors, if they wish. They could also share specific nuggets with those they know will be interested. Or maybe they simply have a few more interesting things to say next time the opportunity presents itself to “go cultivate the donors.”

As always, your comments, responses, and questions are welcomed here and by email at fundraisinghelp@sbcglobal.net.



Photo Credit: Pete TerLouw, courtesy Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy

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