Posted on

Your Treasure Map: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

One of the best ways to identify people to engage through your Point of Entry Events is to create a Treasure Map. In other environments, it might be called a network analysis or a mind map. We call it a Treasure Map because the purpose of the exercise is to unearth the buried treasure that your organization may have.

Create a Treasure Map by writing your organization’s name in a small circle in the middle of a large sheet of paper, and draw out spokes (like a wheel) around that. At the end of each spoke, put the name of a group that your organization naturally comes into contact with. Examples include board, volunteers, donors, vendors, community partners, and staff. Some groups should be further divided into subgroups. For example, “board” could be broken down into former board, advisory board, and governing board. Volunteers could be broken into all of your different types of volunteers. Donors could be broken into events, direct mail donors, special event donors, lapsed donors, etc.

Once you have fully fleshed out the Treasure Map, next to each group write the resources that group has in abundance. Are they tangible resources, like goods and services, or non-tangible resources, like passion or connections? List out two things each group has in abundance.

Next, look at the self-interest of the people in this group for being involved with your organization. This self-interest is not good or bad, it just is what it is. Self-interest might be that it feels good, that it pleases their boss, that they want recognition, or that they are learning a new skill or maintaining a social connection. Go from one group to the next and identify what might be their unique self-interest for being involved with your organization.

Once you have completed the Treasure Map exercise, how should you use it? For starters, identify one or more individuals per group who could naturally serve as Ambassadors to easily reach out to other people who fall into the same group, for example, all of the Tuesday afternoon program volunteers. Find one great ringleader from that group and ask them to host a Point of Entry for all of those other volunteers. Even if they are already involved as volunteers, once they attend the Point of Entry Event, they will likely learn something new about your organization, and, in their follow-up call with your Team Leader, they will likely volunteer to serve as an Ambassador.

Beyond using the Treasure Map to identify Ambassadors, you can use it to identify other individuals or subgroups of people to invite as guests to attend your Points of Entry.

Your organization should complete a Treasure Map exercise at least once a year—although some groups choose to do this exercise more often. Even after several years of implementing the Benevon Model, if you create a new Treasure Map with your current board, staff, or volunteers, they will have different and unique input. Your organization’s network is always evolving and changing, and even if you are looking at groups that have been involved with your organization long-term, there will be new people (think new board members, new event sponsors or donors) who will bring a fresh perspective.

Be sure your team is set up to do a deep dive into this exercise a minimum of once a year and always go back to it when you are looking for people to invite to Points of Entry!

Posted on

What to Do With Ambassadors After They Host a Point of Entry?

Leaning Too Heavily on Your Board?

Q: What should I do with an Ambassador once they have brought their ten guests to their private Point of Entry Event?

Miriam in Arizona

A: You can always ask them if they would like to host another private Point of Entry and bring another group of ten guests or more. If you think they would make a good Ambassador Manager, ask them to take on that role. They could help in the training of new Ambassadors or they could join your Benevon team. See if they would like to become a program volunteer.

Whatever you do, continue to cultivate them, because they have obviously done a lot of work for you and care about your mission. Eventually, if they have been a successful Ambassador, you would want to ask them to consider being a Table Captain.

Posted on

Three Questions to Prevent Ambassador Fallout

In the follow-up call made to each of your potential gold-standard Ambassadors, after they have come to their first Point of Entry Event, many will volunteer enthusiastically to be Ambassadors.

From the moment an enthusiastic new Ambassador volunteers until the day they host their private Point of Entry Event for ten or more guests, “life” will inevitably happen and there will likely be many temptations for the Ambassador to change their mind, potentially leaving you in the lurch.

To avoid this “Ambassador fallout” here are three things the Team Leader must clarify before you hang up the phone and count this person as a confirmed Ambassador:

When?
When would the Ambassador like to have their first Point of Entry Event? Would the Ambassador prefer to host a private Point of Entry Event or invite guests to the organization’s regularly scheduled Points of Entry? The ideal scenario would be for each Ambassador to host one private Point of Entry Event at your location, with at least ten guests in attendance, within three months of becoming an Ambassador. If the Ambassador is excited and has developed a guest list, there is no need to wait to have the event. Schedule their Point of Entry to take place as soon as possible. Choose the soonest date that works for everyone and make the event happen, capturing the initial momentum.

Where?
Where will the Point of Entry Event take place? Although the easiest location for your staff will no doubt be in the organization’s office, where your team will already have practiced and refined your Point of Entry program, once you have refined your Point of Entry in your office, and tested it over several months, you can begin to offer private Points of Entry in a Box in your Ambassadors’ homes, offices, or other meeting spaces. (See Chapter 16 in The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, Second Edition.)

Who?
Who will the Ambassador invite to attend? Be sure your Team Leader takes time in that first phone call to help the new Ambassador brainstorm their full Personal Treasure Map, identifying specific social or professional groups, book clubs, etc., that the person belongs to. Do not assume they will do this without you.

Have them walk through the same steps as the Treasure Map you made for your organization, starting by putting themselves in the center circle, adding the groups they naturally come into contact with, what each group has in abundance, the benefits for the groups in coming to a Point of Entry Event for your organization, and the lines connecting those who know each other. Give them enough time to go through all the steps. They probably will be surprised by all the treasure they have.

Then, ask them to make a list of ten to twenty individuals from the various categories on their Treasure Map who they would feel comfortable inviting to a Point of Entry Event. It’s often easiest for people to start off by inviting the people closest to them: friends and family. Beyond that, is there a ready-made group they are part of? Does that group have a standing meeting time? Would that be a group that might have an interest in coming to your Point of Entry Event?

Once you have answered these three questions and you can tell that the Ambassador is excited about hosting the event and has a vision for how it will look and feel, you can refer the Ambassador to your volunteer Ambassador Manager, who will keep in close contact with the Ambassador to ensure the success of their private Point of Entry Event.

Posted on

High-Impact Follow-Up Calls

After all your work putting on a brilliant Point of Entry Event, how can you make the most of your Benevon Follow-Up Calls? Here is a more detailed guide for how to ensure you will gently discover whether or not your guest is interested in becoming more involved with your organization and, if so, in what way. I’d recommend keeping this beside your phone as you make your calls. Be sure to enter all your notes into your database to track the entire donor cultivation process.

Detailed Five-Step Follow-Up Call

  1. Thank you for coming.
  2. What did you think?
    • Of the stories you heard?
    • What area of our work most interested you? Was it (bucket #1, #2, or #3)?
    • What new thoughts or ideas did you come away with?
    • Was there a particular aspect of our work that resonated with you? Tell me about it.
    • Did you leave with any questions I can answer for you?
    • What advice do you have for us?
  3. Be quiet and listen.
    • Take notes on what they say.
    • Enter notes into database.
  4. Is there any way you can see yourself becoming involved with us?
    • Become an Ambassador—host and fill a private Point of Entry with ten or more guests.
    • Have a list of things people could do, such as volunteer opportunities; making reminder calls for Points of Entry; or volunteering (e.g., tutoring or mentoring a child).
    • Reference the Wish List items.
    • Activity related to their bucket area of interest (e.g., meet with the program director or tour the facility, invite to a small event).
  5. Is there anyone else you can think of that you would like to invite to a Point of Entry?
    • Who else in your daily life might be interested in learning more about what we do?
      • Are there other groups you participate in, individuals you talked to about the tour, perhaps a family member or friend, someone you know who has a personal connection or a real passion for our work?
      • Example: “You mentioned you work in the healthcare field. Is there anyone else from your work—or from your book club, for that matter—who you think should know about our work?”
    • As you heard at our Point of Entry, our biggest need is to have people help us spread the word about our organization by serving as a volunteer Ambassador. Is that something you might be willing to help us with?
    • [If they answer “yes,” talk through when and where they would like to host their private event and make a preliminary list of who they would like to invite. Remember, the easiest way to fill a Point of Entry is with a ready-made group they are already a part of, like their book club. Schedule a next call to take place within two weeks.]
    • [If they answer “no,” then arrange a next contact—either a second visit to your offices to meet with a program person in the program that interests them, or to attend a special program like a graduation, or to volunteer.]

If you are certain that they are not interested in any further contact, thank them for coming and “bless and release them.” You can enter their name in your database but do not mail them or call them again. Trust that they will come back if and when the time is right.

Posted on

Qualities of Great Ambassadors

Q: We read the book, and thought that the Ambassador concept made a lot of sense. We’d like to start implementing an Ambassador program at our organization. Before we start, we wanted to know: what makes for a great Ambassador? What are the characteristics of a strong Ambassador?

Natalie in Florida

A: The most important quality of an Ambassador is that they have an abundance of passion for the mission of your organization. Perhaps they have shared that they have a personal connection to your mission, or they have volunteered or been a donor, but in some way they have demonstrated that your mission is their mission too. You also want to look for people who say yes to being involved with you, and who follow through by doing what they say they will do. Maybe they have asked, “What do you need?” or “How could I help?” They may be people who are already “natural ambassadors” for your organization in that they have shared your work with others and invited them to come and get involved. Ambassadors need to be passionate about spreading the word in the community about your mission!

Posted on

The Glue that Holds it All Together

From Terry’s book, The Benevon Model for Sustainable Funding: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting it Right, Second Edition.

In the Benevon Model, follow-up is the glue that holds the whole model together. When your goal is to build lifelong relationships with individual donors, the follow-up process never ends. Whether after the initial Point of Entry Event or after each subsequent donor contact, you will be asking your donors for their personal feedback and listening closely for clues as to how they might like to become more involved.

The first Benevon Follow-Up Call, which happens after the initial Point of Entry Event, is not just a polite thank-you call, in which case it could be made by the Ambassador or the person who invited each guest to attend. It is fine for the Ambassador to call their guest to thank them for coming. However, the official Follow-Up Call must be made by someone representing the organization, someone to whom the guest can give candid feedback, without any sense of obligation to the friend who invited them.

The purpose of the Follow-Up Call is to discover whether or not this person is interested in becoming more involved with your organization. If the guest does want to become more involved, the Follow-Up Call is the opportunity to determine the particular aspects of your work that most inspire them and who else they may want to invite to attend a Point of Entry Event.

If you discover during the Follow-Up Call that the guest does not want to get involved, the guest is “blessed and released,” but not until you have asked if there is anyone else they might want to invite to a future Point of Entry Event.

Selecting the Ideal Person to Make the Follow-Up Calls
As you begin implementing the Benevon Model, it is worth thinking through who will be responsible for making these critical Follow-Up Calls.

The official Follow-Up Call should be made by the one staff member who is the Team Leader accountable for the successful implementation of the Benevon Model within the organization. This person needs to enjoy building relationships—and talking on the telephone! This person will be each guest’s ongoing primary contact at the organization and will guide the cultivation process leading up to the Ask Event and beyond.

The ideal Follow-Up Call person must:

    • Attend every Point of Entry Event and have a speaking role, either as the tour guide, storyteller, or testimonial speaker
    • Enjoy talking to people on the phone
    • Be accountable for Ambassador recruitment and oversee the Ambassador Manager
    • Have access to the executive director or CEO to get responses to donors’ questions or ideas in a timely manner
    • Possess the maturity and ability to interact with all types of people
    • Enjoy developing relationships with people over time
    • Be detail-oriented and committed to tracking every donor conversation in your database

Choose your Follow-Up Call person carefully and be sure that every guest receives this call two to three days after attending their Point of Entry Event.

Posted on

Should all board members be on our fundraising team?

Ask Benevon: The Ask Event is Not a First Date

Q: We are starting to put together a team to implement the Benevon Model. I am wondering, why wouldn’t all or most board members have team member responsibilities?

Jamie in Washington

A: Not all board members will want to be part of your fundraising team. Many may already be serving on a board committee. Those who are already on your fund development committee would be the natural candidates for serving on your Benevon team.

Having said that, ideally, every board member will serve as an Ambassador at least once, if not once a year. Serving as an Ambassador means hosting and filling one private Point of Entry with ten or more friends and colleagues.

Beyond serving on your Benevon team and being an Ambassador, board members can contribute by making thank-you phone calls to donors and giving money themselves.

We treat board members like donors, and you would never require all of your donors to get involved on your fundraising team—only those who want to.

Posted on

Seven Great Ways to Get Your Board Started with the Benevon Model

We are often asked how to involve the entire board in the Benevon process. Here are seven key ways to get started that do not include having board members ask other people for money!

  1. Have every board member watch the free online video, Eight Minutes to Sustainable Funding, or the full fifty-five-minute video, Creating Sustainable Funding for Your Nonprofit, to get themselves up to speed on the Benevon Model.
  2. Allow time at each board meeting for your Sustainable Funding Team members to talk up the model within the board. Have them talk about the importance of long-term sustainable funding and the impact it would have on your community. Give board members an opportunity for real discussion about their frustrations with the year-to-year fundraising treadmill and begin to quantify what sustainable funding would look like, using specific metrics.
  3. Ask each board member to become an Ambassador for your work in the community. Ask them to think about groups of people in their lives who would love to know more about your organization and make a plan for hosting and filling a private Point of Entry Event for ten or more guests.
  4. Organize a board retreat about sustainable funding.
    • Start by having each board member say why they are involved with your organization and why they feel its work is so important.
    • Explain the model or have them watch one of the Benevon videos.
    • Tell them your plan to start putting on Point of Entry Events.
    • Invite them to attend a kick-the-tires Point of Entry just for the board.
    • Do a Treasure Map exercise with the board to identify groups in the community and people they think should be invited to Points of Entry.
    • Remind them that the model is mission-based and permission-based. Your organization will not be asking people for money until each potential donor has been educated and inspired about the work of your group.
  5. Invite board members to join your official Sustainable Funding Team, involving them in Point of Entry Events, follow-up, asking, and cultivation.
  6. Have one or two board members each month make calls to thank donors and to ask for their input and feedback after events. Follow the specific Benevon Follow-Up Call protocol. With every “thank you” be sure to include a story or example about the impact that gift made. There is no substitute for a board member calling a donor. Repeat: there is no substitute for a board member calling a donor.
  7. Ask board members to give money personally to the organization every year. Your goal is to have your organization be one of the top three places each board member supports.

Remember the Benevon Golden Rule: treat each board member as if they were your most cherished major donor. In other words, take the time to find out their specific areas of interest in your work and tend them carefully.

Posted on

Multiple-Year Giving Society Board Buy-In

Inviting Guests to the Point of Entry

Q: How am I going to convince my board that asking is okay at these Multiple-Year Giving Society pledge levels?

Katherine in California

A: As veterans of many fundraising events, most board members presume their guests will be pressured to give at the Ask Event. They presume this event will be the first time a guest learns about your organization and therefore they rightly fear that asking for these “large amounts” will be off-putting.

Once your board members understand that all the Table Captains at the Ask Event will have served as Ambassadors, hosting and filling their own private Point of Entry Event with ten or more guests, and that these prior Point of Entry guests will be the same people they invite to sit at their tables at your Free One-Hour Ask Event, they will begin to see how different this event is.

We recommend you let these skeptical board members observe and enjoy your first Ask Event, and they will come along at their own pace.

If you focus on having privately hosted Points of Entry, you will naturally meet our metric for having 10% of your Ask Event guests give at one of the three larger multi-year levels. The fourth box on the pledge card lets donors fill in the blanks for their own gift level. We only expect 40 to 50% of Ask Event guests to make any gift at all at the event.

For those board members who do not want to participate in the process, invite them to the Ask Event, seat them with other board members or friends and let them be a part of the whole experience. Do not ask them to be Table Captains.

If your event follows the Benevon Model, your board members will be so proud of your organization, they will likely become supporters of this process and volunteer to serve as Ambassadors over the next year.

Remember our golden rule about treating board members as if they are your most cherished major donors. You would never force your most cherished major donors to do anything. Let them determine their own preferred form of participation.