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Triaging Your Follow-Up Calls

In the Benevon Model, every guest at your Point of Entry Event will receive a follow-up call within two to three days. This is not just a quick thank-you call. Rather, this is an interactive research call, a one-on-one focus group in which you gather critical data on each potential lifelong donor and friend.

The purpose of this call is to gauge the guest’s level of interest in becoming more involved with your organization. If the guest is not interested in becoming more involved, they are “blessed and released.” If they are interested in becoming more involved, this follow-up call is the start of an authentic dialog, which is the foundation of any lasting relationship.

With all of that in mind, who makes the call is nearly as important! Keep these guidelines in mind when carefully selecting who from your organization makes your Five-Step Follow-Up Calls.

  • Ideally the person making the follow-up calls will be your Benevon Team Leader, or another staff person—not a board member or volunteer.
  • This person must like talking with people on the phone and enjoy developing relationships.
  • This person must have a speaking role at the Point of Entry Event (tour guide, storyteller). When they make that follow-up call, your guests must already be familiar with this person.
  • It can’t be someone who will just be doing the calls to check them off a list. This person must be passionate about this important step in the Benevon Model—the beginning of a lifelong relationship with potential donors!
  • This person must know how to use your database. After each call, every bit of data gathered must be recorded in your database. Be sure your donor tracking system has a section for you to record and track notes about each donor contact and about your next steps.

Triaging who calls each guest

  • Your staff Team Leader will make the majority of the calls, but there may be times when your executive director or CEO should make the follow-up call, such as when a board member or major donor attends.
  • If you have multiple development staff, there may be times when another staff member does the follow-up because they are already engaged in building a relationship with that donor.
  • Anyone who makes a follow-up call must be well-versed in the process and record the conversation in detail in your donor tracking system.

Having the right person make the follow-up calls will make a big difference in your results moving forward!

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Ambassador Managers

Q: We are working on improving our Ambassador program and see that you recommend in the book having an Ambassador Manager. Do you recommend that be a volunteer, staff member, or Benevon team member? What have you seen other organizations do to find success with this role?

Nathan in New Jersey

A: The Ambassador Manager is key to a thriving Ambassador program and to assuring that each potential Ambassador fulfills their commitment to have at least ten guests attend their private Point of Entry Event in the next two to three months. The Ambassador Manager should be a volunteer who has served successfully as an Ambassador in the past. Ideally this would be a volunteer or board member who is already on your Benevon implementation team.

Once this volunteer agrees to take on the role of Ambassador Manager, they will be responsible for following up with each new Ambassador within two days of when they commit to participate, which will most often happen on the follow-up call made by the staff Team Leader after the Point of Entry. On that call, the Team Leader will talk through the who, when, and where of the Point of Entry the new Ambassador wants to host. The Team Leader lets the new Ambassador know 1) to be expecting a call the next day from the Ambassador Manager, noting that person by name and 2) that the Ambassador Manager has served as a successful Ambassador and will support the new Ambassador through the process.

On the initial call, the Ambassador Manager will confirm the details of the Point of Entry, review how to effectively invite someone to attend a Point of Entry Event, and establish weekly or bi-weekly check-ins. With support and encouragement from your Ambassador Manager, your Ambassadors will have what they need to be successful!

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The Gold Standard: Creating an Extraordinary Ambassador Program

This week’s feature is an excerpt from The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, Second Edition. For more information and to buy the book, visit our store.

Ambassadors are the people who are so passionate about your work they will happily invite others to attend your Point of Entry Events. Once you develop a system for recruiting and managing a self-generating group of Ambassadors, the job of implementing the Benevon Model becomes a lot more enjoyable and successful!

There are only two requirements for being an Ambassador: having passion for the mission of your organization, and the ability to fill and host a private Point of Entry Event for ten or more guests over the course of the next three months.

The Gold Standard
The best way to identify potential Ambassadors is to first clarify the attributes of an ideal “gold-standard” Ambassador. Make a quick list of the top five to ten people who most love your organization and will say yes to pretty much anything you ever ask them to do. These are the people who follow through on what they promise, keep in touch, tell their friends about you, and offer to help you with special projects, for example.

For these people, your organization is at the top of their list. You may notice that some, but perhaps not all, of your board members belong on this list. Also, some of your volunteers and past board members may belong on the list, although their current affiliation with your organization is loose at best. Regardless of their official role with your organization today, these people feel as if your work is their work, and they feel as if they are part of your family. Do not screen this list by wealth or contacts. The only screening criteria should be their demonstrated passion and follow-through.

Now, step back and look at your list. What are the common attributes of the people you have named? Write them down on a separate list. Usually people identify qualities like: they always show up, they return our calls, they tell their friends about us, they ask how else they can help, they do what they say they’re going to do, they have a personal connection to our mission, they feel like insiders, we can talk openly with them about what’s really going on.

Think about those attributes. Notice that the list does not necessarily include giving money. The people who fit this description are the natural champions for your mission, your ideal potential Ambassadors. These are the gold-standard attributes that you will look for as you recruit all future Ambassadors.

Keep one or two of these people in mind as you expand your list of possible Ambassadors to remind you of the qualities you are looking for. Your goal is to find and develop as many more people as possible who have these same types of attributes who will in turn invite others to your Points of Entry. Do not lower your standards.

 

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Benevon Wish List

How can we prepare our board for getting started with the Benevon Model? How do we explain to them what’s different about it?

Q: We don’t have a wish list for in-kind items. What should we be sharing on tours? Do guests need an in-kind option to give to before they want to do more? We do get lots of questions about what kind of items we need in our housing (we build affordable housing).

Sarah in Minnesota

A: The Wish List is one of the two handouts people should receive at your Point of Entry (the other handout is the Fact Sheet). Your Wish List should highlight about ten non-monetary items that someone could contribute to benefit your organization.

We never want to list a dollar amount or ask for funding for a specific need on the Wish List. Short of that, you should consider any other volunteer role or tangible item that would truly make a difference for your organization!

The first item on your Wish List should be the volunteer role of serving as an Ambassador. This means hosting a private, invitation-only Point of Entry Event for ten or more guests. Given that all Point of Entry guests should be invited by Ambassadors, everyone at the Point of Entry will have a good role model for what it is to be an Ambassador. They will also be reminded during the event and in the follow-up call that being an Ambassador is the very best way people can help if they are inspired by what they learn at the Point of Entry.

To choose which items to include on your Wish List of ten items, it’s a good idea to interview your program staff, asking what they most need. While you might think of “in-kind” donations strictly as household items, children’s books, or something else that people have tucked away in their houses, your wish list can go beyond that. For example, consider items like:

  • Bus passes/transportation cards
  • A donated meal for a weekly support group that you sponsor
  • Office supplies (printer paper or other supplies, or even new carpeting or furniture)
  • Carpet or air-conditioning for your building

Be sure that the items on your Wish List are things you really need—because you will get them! And yes, as you implied, often an in-kind gift is a starter gift from a potential major donor. Take good care of these donors, inviting them back to see the difference their in-kind gift has made.

Finally, remember to refresh your Wish List two or three times a year as your wishes are granted.

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Team Leader: You Can Delegate That

The Team Leader has a unique role on the Sustainable Funding Team—to coordinate the team’s efforts, not to do all the work!

The biggest challenge for Team Leaders is to delegate tasks to people who are often higher in the organization’s hierarchy, such as their executive director or esteemed board members. However, as your team meets regularly, people will naturally take on parts of the process that they enjoy.

Here are nine tasks that the Team Leader can delegate to other members of the team.

    • Managing Ambassadors—if you have a team member who has already been a successful Ambassador, engage her in a new role as an Ambassador Manager, helping new Ambassadors get started and ensuring their success.
    • Handling the logistics for the Ask Event or the Point of Entry Events, securing a venue, organizing table rentals, food planning, etc.
    • Planning and executing Free Feel-Good Cultivation Events and ensuring that your Multiple-Year Giving Society donors each make it to one such event each year.
    • Recruiting successful Ambassadors to be Table Captains and supporting/managing these Table Captains prior to the Ask Event.
    • Being the Cultivation Partner for a number of multi-year donors, leading up to a larger Ask.
    • Being the “sizzle police” for the Point of Entry Event—making sure your organization’s tour maintains all of the elements that make it sizzling with facts and emotion, each and every time you hold the event.
    • Making thank-you/invitation calls to donors.
    • Supporting data tracking efforts by being trained and entering data for cultivation contacts with donors.
    • Board members on the team can be accountable for keeping the rest of the board informed and actively engaged in your organization’s implementation of the Benevon Model.

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Asking for Ambassadors at the Point of Entry

Ask Benevon: The Ask Event is Not a First Date

Q: Isn’t the Point of Entry a little premature to be asking for Ambassadors? Wouldn’t it be better to wait and ask people further down the road?

Jim in South Carolina

A: Ambassadors should come as no surprise to first-time Point of Entry guests. When their friend or colleague invites them to the event, they are told that the main purpose of the Point of Entry is to get the word out in the community about the group’s remarkable work. Their host Ambassador also tells them to be thinking of others who should know about this organization.

Then, at the start of the Point of Entry, the volunteer Ambassador host, who has filled this event with ten or more people they know well, reiterates the purpose of the event and the request to be thinking of others who would want to know about this. She tells her guests that she hopes they will be so inspired by today’s event that they will consider becoming an Ambassador and hosting and filling a private Point of Entry event themselves. “That is the very best way you can help us.”

You can also mention Ambassadors when you show guests your Wish List, which has Ambassadors prominently listed as the first thing you need.

Finally, the Ambassador says in the wrap-up that she hopes everyone will take the follow-up call from the team leader and that “many of you will consider becoming an Ambassador” and hosting a similar private Point of Entry Event.

Think of the Ambassadors as short-term volunteers. If your Point of Entry Event has been sizzling, many guests will be eager to fill this role. Tell them again that hosting and filling a private Point of Entry Event is the very best way they can help you if they are inspired by what they have seen.

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Top 5 Follow-Up Call No-Nos

Follow-up calls are the glue that holds the model together. If you are not planning to do a rigorous job of following up with each and every person who attends your Point of Entry Event, there is no point in having these events at all. In fact, the very first step in planning each event should be to design your follow-up system.

When following up with your guests after events, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Having the calls made by someone who wasn’t at the Point of Entry and didn’t have a speaking role. The purpose of the follow-up call is to deepen or continue the relationship after the Point of Entry. That will not work if it’s a cold call from a stranger.
  2. Making calls more than two to three business days after the Point of Entry Event. People just won’t remember what they saw or heard if you wait too long! Timing is important and follow-up should be scheduled in your calendar.
  3. Not allowing enough time for the calls. You should plan on fifteen minutes per call. If you are rushing to get off the phone, you can’t really be present and get the most out of the call.
  4. Asking for money. You should be asking your Point of Entry guests if they want to get involved or further engaged with your organization, but you should not ask for money on a follow-up call, just like you shouldn’t ask for money at the Point of Entry Event!
  5. Not capturing good notes in your database and scheduling the next contact. Even if you have a great call, if you don’t document the conversation and set a next action, it’s like it never happened!
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When to Ask Someone to Become and Ambassador

Inviting Guests to the Point of Entry

Do we have to wait until after the Point of Entry and Follow-Up Call to ask people to be an Ambassador?

 Heidi in Oregon

A: No, but it is essential that, at a minimum, each potential Ambassador attends a Point of Entry before signing on to become an Ambassador, no matter how much they already love your organization. They need to have experienced the Point of Entry themselves and know what they will be inviting people to attend.