Leveraging the Donor: The Fourth (and Final) Point in a Cycle of Life-Long Giving

A Four Stage Plan for the Annual Fund

David A. Mersky imageWhen I began this series I asked you, “In this coming year, what are you going to do to exceed your fundraising goals?”

Well the year is up. How did you do? Did you write down your goals and objectives? Did you meet or exceed your expectations?

In this coming year, there is one more thing you should plan to do…if you do not do it already, and that is to leverage your donors to identify, interest, involve and gain investments from others.

This is the last step in the cycle of life-long giving. To succeed with this fourth step, you must plan to help donors talk with their friends and introduce them to your agency.

The process begins with the first contact after the gift. Like the follow-up call—that we discussed earlier in this series—an immediate contact is essential. The call allows you to let donors know how excited you are to receive their latest gift and to let them know right away. Such a telephone call within two days of “receiving” the gift, employs a basic follow-up call script including the one “killer” question:

Is there any one you might invite to learn more about what we are doing?

You can expect that the conversation will be a positive one as it is a perfectly natural occurrence since donors feel good about their gift, are happy to hear from you and you are providing them with an opportunity to deepen the relationship with you and the agency in which they have just invested.

Your task is now to engage donors to grow the circle of supporters. You might start by asking them to host a gateway event and with you create the invitation list of prospective investors. If you have followed each of the steps in the cycle, the donors will trust you to do for their friends and family what you did with them. They will expect you to treat their friends with utmost care and respect.

The dream for you and your organization is that each new referral from one of your donors will become a life-long supporter.

Thus, the circle grows exponentially in an ever-widening way just as the ripples in the pond when you start with a single stone—one donor—who introduces two new donors, each of whom introduces two more.