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CEO Golden Hour, Part 3: One-on-One Meetings with Donors

April 21, 2014
by Terry Axelrod
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This is my third and final post about the CEO Golden Hour, highlighting the top three things your busy CEO can do to impact donor cultivation and major gifts if they are willing to dedicate merely one hour a week to this critical process.

What does it mean to "cultivate" a donor and how would a busy CEO find the time to do that even if they knew what to do? This is a question we are asked regularly by the groups in our Sustainable Funding Program, now that they have an ever-increasing number of multiple-year donors in their giving society. Rather than merely invoicing donors and expecting them to dutifully make their pledge payment for each of the next five years, these wise CEOs and development directors have discovered that with a high-touch system of personalized contacts, even the busiest of CEOs can begin—and even enjoy—the donor cultivation process!

Have personal lunches, dinners, or visits with the sub-list of donors that have expressed further interest during the CEO personal phone calls or small group lunches. CEO may make donor visits one-on-one or accompanied by a board member or your major gifts person.

Purpose: To get to know each donor better and to feel more connected to them. Likewise, each donor should feel more knowledgeable and more connected to the organization.

Preparation: CEO's assistant, major gifts person, or development director can phone the donor and invite them to lunch with the CEO. "Sheila would love to update you on some of the current developments here at our center and get your input on a few things."

Suggested Agenda:

  • Greeting
  • Thank you for past support, including one or two specific, human examples of what their support made possible
  • Ask/talk about their program area of greatest impact. For example, in a large behavioral health center, is it counseling, job placement, or housing? Give examples of new developments in that area
  • Share challenges the staff are facing and ask questions about how the donor's expertise might relate to each challenge
  • Ask what is going on in the donor's life: family, business, other community interests
  • Be genuine, open, and be sure the donor does 75% of the talking
  • Make a plan for getting back in touch with the donor to follow up on any action items discussed and talk about a next date for another meeting
  • Thank the donor
  • Put all notes in database and take prompt action on any suggestions or open items
  • Keep things moving: don't let too much time pass before the next contact—two to four weeks at longest
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Terry Axelrod

CEO, Benevon

Terry Axelrod

@terryaxelrod

www.benevon.com

Terry Axelrod is founder and CEO of Benevon. She has more than thirty years of experience in the...