Messy Oaks by John Roland

Becoming an “oak of righteousness” can be very messy in real life.


How to “DATE” your major donors


Moves Management is a LOT like dating. If you are interested in a person, you seek to learn all you can about them, genuinely show them interest, and move them to the next level in the relationship. Moves management refers to the process by which a prospective donor is moved from cultivation to solicitation. “Moves” are the actions an organization takes to bring in donors, establish relationships, and renew contributions.

David Dunlop, the Cornell University senior development officer who developed the concept of moves management, has described the idea as “changing people’s attitudes so they want to give.” Moves, he explained, help “develop each prospect’s awareness of, knowledge of, interest in, involvement with and commitment to the institution and its mission.”

Note cards in dating may be pathetic but taking notes in moves management is VITAL! To keep track of your movements, use a Customer relationship management (CRM) system (Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge and Hobsons Radius are two I have used) for managing your interactions with current and future donors. In all your interactions with your donors, document, document, document every step. Writing down when you have contacted them and what their response has been.YOU WILL FORGET OTHERWISE! And you never know what small tidbit might turn into the key to their major gift. Proactively enter the 5-10 moves you would like to make throughout the year and set the reminder feature for each move. Record where their interest lies and who has exposed them to your organization.

Seven steps I have used in moving donors to a larger investment and involvement in our organization:

  1. Identification—as you review your giving history to your organization, who is a consistent giver? Who has been active in your organization and is completely bought in to what you are doing? I use Google alerts to notify me when a donor has been in the news. Begin to develop a profile and understand who could potentially be MOVED to the next level in giving.
  2. Research— Take advantage of wealth indicator software to see where people give and to what organizations. Who does this donor work for and do they have a favorite charity or foundation? Research well known givers in your community. Do they have a not-so-obvious connection to your nonprofit (parents were active, late sibling died from cancer, rags to riches story) and have NEVER been asked??
  3. Strategy—who in your organization knows this person? Who would be the best one to approach them? When is the best time to approach them? Assign a person to approach them. Don’t think of just your staff, but board members, other donors.
  4. Cultivation—once you know there is interest, invite them to your organization’s events. Make them feel special and appreciated on the front end. Show how they can get their “hands dirty” and participate in your organization. Show how their future donations could be used and where the greatest needs are. When I am a development officer for an organization, I am very PROUD to represent them because this is an organization making a difference (otherwise I would not work for them). Rather than have a focus of seeking to GET money from others, my goal is to give people the OPPORTUNITY to make a true impact in THEIR community through the outstanding organization I am passionate about.
  5. Proposal—meet with both volunteers who know the person well and professionals in your organization in developing an “ask” strategy. What would be a WIN/WIN for them in participating in your organization? Develop a clear, authentic, and genuine proposal for how they can be a part of your organization in a larger role.
  6. Negotiation/Agreement—if the donor is agreeable, create a partnership with the donor and your organization where everybody WINS and you can make a hero out of the donor. Discuss naming opportunities, recognitions, and other ways to tailor make this partnership to where the donor feels appreciated and proud of their participation.
  7. Stewardship—regularly thank the donor and be proactive in sending them pictures, testimonials, video clips, articles of how their gift is truly making a difference. Invite them to events and allow them to know how you, your organization, and your volunteers genuinely appreciate what they have done. In seeing their response and involvement in this partnership, slowly but strategically develop future plans to involve them in more investment opportunities in your organization.

I hope this benefits you and your organization. Keep it simple, you are dating your donors and seeking to have them invest and development a relationship with your organization. Having a clear cut plan is always the best way to move forward in accomplishing your goals.

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