Q: We've adopted the Benevon Model and have begun Points of Entry. Because of the time it's taken to get the program off the ground, we know we won't have enough ripened fruit for an Ask Event this fall, and we can't do one in the spring because of other events already happening. What should we do with our small number of "ripened fruit" potential donors in the next 18 months—one-on-one asks? A small, cocktail party-like event to launch our Giving Society? Cultivate without asking?
Rachel in Illinois
A: It takes great patience and a good understanding of the Benevon Model to know how important a strong pipeline of cultivated prospects is to the success of the Ask Event. You only have one shot at having your first Ask Event, and you want to do it right!
Nonetheless, you have people who have come through Point of Entry Events and who have gotten excited, and you don’t want to lose them. The first thing to do is to figure out how you can engage them further. Ideally, they would become Ambassadors and would host or invite at least ten people to Point of Entry Events. Let them know that you have a lot of needs and that engaging other people in the community in your work is the very best way they can help you. This will only bring them closer to your mission and will help get other people to your Point of Entry Events!
If they don’t serve as Ambassadors, continue to cultivate them with other contacts: invitations to programmatic events or filling needed volunteer roles within the organization (only if such roles already exist; don’t create anything new). The Point of Entry is the “first date” with your organization. Think of these other contacts as the second or third date.
If at all possible, wait to ask them for a gift at your Ask Event. If someone is clearly ready to be asked, you could tell them about the Multiple-Year Giving Society you are going to be launching at your first Ask Event and invite them to become part of your Leadership or Challenge Gift you will announce at your Ask Event next fall. In this scenario, these first-time donors should still be invited to attend your Ask Event, ideally as Table Captains who have been Ambassadors or as VIPs.