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Donor Cultivation? I'm too busy. And what does donor cultivation mean, anyway?

May 20, 2013
by Terry Axelrod
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We have found this simple event to be extremely successful in opening doors and creating or deepening an authentic dialog with donors.

Host a box lunch in the CEO's office or conference room with a small group of donors and a board member. The purpose of the lunch is to help your CEO and board members become more comfortable with the donor cultivation process, while giving your loyal donors an inside, personal view of the organization.

In preparation, have your development director invite five to ten donors for a special meeting with your CEO and a board member.

Suggested Agenda:

  • Welcome and introductions:
    • CEO starts right out welcoming people and introducing the board member and development staff present (2 minutes)
    • Each guest introduces themselves and tells their involvement with the organization (8 minutes)
       
  • While people are eating:
    • CEO talks about three things s/he is most excited about that are happening right now at the organization (3 minutes)
    • Questions and discussion (5 minutes)
    • CEO talks about three greatest challenges right now (7 minutes).
    • Questions and discussion (10 minutes)
       
  • After lunch:
    • CEO poses open-ended "focus-group" questions (15 minutes)
      1. How do you think we could better convey our needs?
      2. What advice do you have for us?
      3. How could we be doing a better job of telling our story?
  • Wrap up and thanks from CEO and board member:
    • Be sure to say the development director will call the guests for feedback in the next week (5 minutes)

Warning: Avoid the temptation to sugar-coat reality and paint the rosy picture of the great work you are doing, without ever letting your hair down about the real challenges, financial and otherwise, that you may be facing. Try to open up more and give donors a glimpse into a day in the life of the CEO.

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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...