The key to success and sustainability.
I think that sometimes we get caught up in the hamster wheel of “scale” – That is, endlessly growing our audience and, therefore, the number of donors who might support our work.
In fundraising, we’re constantly pressured to find new prospects, add names to our appeal mailing list or scatter our asks far and wide into the algorithmic abyss of social media.
But I’m convinced that the single most important thing you can do when raising money for your cause is to refine rather than expand. Making a genuine and meaningful one-to-one connection with each of your supporters is everything in this game. It’s all about relationship building.
Taking the time to personally meet and hold space for dialogue with an open mind and a curious heart will pay dividends in your fundraising.
It’s the key to both short-term success and long-term sustainability. And, while it’s naturally a lot more work and certainly a much more vulnerable approach, I’d argue that it’s also a hell of a lot more emotionally rewarding.
With that in mind… Action! 🎬
⏳Set the timer for 20 minutes (when you’re ready to go, click here for an online timer at the ready) and grab something to document with (text doc, pen and paper, voice memo – however you take notes).
Think of 3 people. These 3 people could be your top donors, a program officer you particularly love, prospects you’ve been seeking to connect with or simply your favorite community member (and we all have favorites!)
The next part is quick and dirty so don’t overthink it. I want you to send each of those 3 people an email (or text, however you best connect with them) and invite them out for coffee. The goal here is to meet with them in-person for an hour and have a conversation. You’re not making an ask nor a pitch. This is simply a meeting of the minds to share and discuss a topic you both care deeply about. Video chat or Skype is an option if distance is an issue, but face-to-face is what’s important.
Step number 3 can be a tough one, I know! It’s that whole “hitting the send button” anxiety thing. So, to help you out, here is a script I adapt and use regularly:
Dear [Lovely Supporter],
I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer! Now that we’re back in the swing of September, I hope you might have time to grab coffee sometime soon? I’d love to personally share some of our recent highlights with you and hear all about what you’ve been up to these past few months. Feel free to suggest a convenient time and place to get together – I’m happy to come to you!
As inboxes are perpetually crowded, I tend to keep it super short, sweet and to the point. Though, if it’s appropriate, I may include a teaser sentence about a recent highlight or some forthcoming programming that hasn’t been announced to the public-at-large just yet. Something that will give the recipient a sense of what we might talk about.
OK, go hit send!
If this has been helpful to you, please consider making a donation! Your contribution is deeply appreciated and supports all of the free programming at Open Rivers.