Q: In addition to inviting donors to cultivation events, the Benevon Model says that we should be having personal contacts with our Giving Society donors twice a year. What should those contacts look like? Are they by phone or email or in person?
Micah in South Carolina
A: Personal cultivation contacts are a key element of the cultivation and relationship-building process with your major donors. While Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events are one key way to engage your donors, they are no substitute for getting personal. Personal cultivation contacts allow for a dialogue, so they are always done via phone or face to face. Email also allows for a dialogue. If you are unsure what method of communication is best for a donor, just ask!
The contacts should be based on areas of your work that the donor has expressed an interest in. Perhaps you invite them to a program-related activity or simply meet with them one-on-one for lunch or coffee in your office or at a restaurant. Meeting with a small group of donors to talk about key program accomplishments also “counts” as a personal contact. As you look at your organization’s annual calendar of program events or celebrations, always be thinking of which of your donors might enjoy attending each event, as a way for them to see your mission in action.
With each of these personal contacts, you should be getting to know your donor better and having them get to know your organization better. Each cultivation contact should give you new information that will help you choose the perfect next cultivation contact.
Personal cultivation contacts are made by the executive director or CEO and high-level volunteers (like board members). Think about the right person to call and reach out to that donor. Sometimes that makes a big difference in the response you get.
Finally, make sure that all of your personal cultivation contacts are tracked in your database. These contacts should build on each other as they would in any relationship.