Special Feature: Donor Cultivation—Is Yours Personal Enough?

This article is available until July 30, 2017
Donor Cultivation--Is Yours Personal Enough? To create a customized dialog with each donor, each contact must be personal, according to Benevon's definition of "personal." It must be one-on-one, speaking only to them, making each donor feel special. It can't feel generic. It can't feel so standard and impersonal that the donor knows that this identical contact is being made with every other donor (even though that may be the case).

Each communication has to be customized enough that the donor knows you are speaking only to them, and you know what they need to feel special.

Think about what your organization is currently doing to stay in contact with your donors.

Most groups tell us that the majority of their time is spent in the least personal contacts, sending out:

  • newsletters via bulk mail
  • expensive printed invitations to which only a fraction of people respond
  • formal thank-you letters which engender no next contact
  • direct mail solicitations that keep the relationship safely at arm's length

Imagine if you were to take all the time and energy that your organization puts into all those impersonal contacts and refocused on getting to know one subset of your donors and supporters personally (for example, your direct mail donors who give more than $500 per year) by cultivating them over time and then asking them for money, year after year.

It would be far more satisfying to you and to the donors, and it would honor the mission of your organization, rather than demean it by entertaining, manipulating, and pressuring people to give long before they are ready.

What do you already know about each donor that could start the process? Do you know the ages of their children or grandchildren, any changes in a family member's health status, an upcoming big birthday, family, or career event?

And what more would you like to know? Why are they so passionate about your organization's mission? Might their children be interested in volunteering at your senior center or food bank? How did that big work event go for them? What kind of challenges are they dealing with in their new job?

Again, the first element in our definition of "personal" is that each contact must feel personal—it can't be generic. It needs to be customized enough so that the donor knows you are speaking only to them. Anything short of that is not personal enough.


Contact Benevon today to learn how the Benevon Model for nonprofit fundraising can help you develop an effective fundraising campaign and cultivate committed lifelong donors.



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