People and vendors in our sector talk a lot about identifying donors, but getting them ready to meet with you is a different story.
The problem is that most donors simply aren’t ready to talk to you yet.
This post was inspired by a horrible meeting.
Last week, I met with the Vice President of University Relations at one of the biggest schools in the country. During our chat, I told her that most ‘identified’ major and planned gift prospects need to be cultivated before outreach.
My statement was met with a grimace and the following response: “That’s not what we train fundraisers to do. We train them to reach out to prospects as soon as they’re identified.”
“This meeting isn’t gonna’ go well,” I thought to myself silently.
Then she said, “You know… I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”
“Hmm. Just because you’ve been doing things for decades doesn’t mean you’re doing them correctly,” I mused (again silently).
I wondered if she had ever donated because, in my experience, as a donor, when fundraisers move too fast they make supporters very uncomfortable. No one likes receiving cold calls (and no one enjoys making them).
You can avoid discomfort on both sides if you segment your data as follows:
- Identified supporters – These folks have been found to meet certain requirements according to basic engagement and giving metrics (or wealth screening and predictive modeling)
- Qualified supporters – If you don’t have budget for wealth screening or other forms of prospect identification, you can easily skip that expense and qualify your major and planned giving prospects/donors using a donor survey (of course, I built the only donor survey platform that really gets the job done for people like you). Using that tool you’ll capture each donor’s interests, passions and a lot more. Then you can use that information in the next stage below.
- Qualified supporters in cultivation – Once you have qualified your leads and collected great information about them, their interests and their desires, next you’ll need to prioritize them for outreach (unless you have the staff and free time to call all of your qualified leads). But even if you have that kind of free time, we have found that interrupting them with cold calls (as the Vice President in my story demands of her ‘well-trained’ staff) is challenging. Gaining a warm referral from a solid mutual connection works better. But if you don’t have one of those, you might want to let most of them self-navigate the stages of the relationship by leveraging technology to deliver highly relevant, personalized email ‘touches’ that never ask for money but, instead, provide value and deliver meaningful content. This builds trust. Technology also helps you manage the very tedious and time-consuming cultivation and prioritization process. It’s not easy for a Gift Officer to do it right. Staying on top of cultivation efforts for dozens, hundreds or thousands of qualified major gift or legacy supporters is just too complex. Artificial intelligence can do it for you at very low cost.
- Highly qualified ‘outreach-ready’ supporters – As their trust and desire grow over time thanks to your hi-value, highly-personalized, meaningful and highly relevant cultivation, they’ll eventually be ready for you to reach out to them. Also, at this stage they’ll be exponentially more likely to accept your outreach, meet with you and give. Your call won’t be cold. It will be warm or even hot. Some supporters will even thank you for your attentiveness and concern. (NOTE: You’ll know when that time arrives if you monitor their digital body language using our platform.)
Voila! Highly-qualified outreach-ready leads.
In the private sector they are called ‘sales-ready leads‘. Of course, fundraisers are not salespeople. So for our sector I like to call them ‘outreach-ready leads’. These are highly qualified leads that have been nurtured and cultivated properly over time so, when you reach out to them, they don’t feel like they’re being attacked. Rather, they’re ‘ready’ to accept your outreach. In most cases they even welcome it and thank you for finally contacting them.
If you don’t have highly qualified outreach-ready major and legacy giving leads, maybe it’s time for you to talk to us. It’s easy to do so. Just go here.
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