• Lynn Bohart


Updated: Aug 27, 2018

If you aren’t aware of this statistic, you should be. Successful fundraising is 90% cultivation and 10% solicitation.

And yet, many nonprofits focus the majority of their fundraising efforts on solicitation – writing fundraising appeals, staging ‘ask’ events, holding auctions, or writing grant applications.

So, what can you do to change the balance? Here are a few tips.

#1 Identify potential top donors and rate them by their ability to give AND the likelihood of their giving to you. The goal is to spend your time on potential donors who rate highly on both sides of the scale. There’s no point rushing out to solicit an individual who clearly has the ability to give, but doesn’t know who you are. Nor does it make sense to ask for a major gift from someone who doesn’t have the resources.

So, identify individuals that have the capability to give, but also have one or more of the following: a connection to you through staff, the board, or your clients; given to causes similar to yours; attended one of your events; requested information from you; given a small donation to you; or put you in their will. This means it’s more likely they will have a positive feeling toward you, and that further cultivation could pay off.

#2 Assign each potential major donor to a staff and/or board member, who will then develop a plan to cultivate them over a specific period of time.

#3 Be sure to develop a method to track your efforts. In other words, monitor each time your organization ‘touches’ that person in a positive way. Here are a few ideas on how you might do this:

· Invite them to a social or educational event.

· Ask them for advice.

· Invite them to sit on a committee or the board.

· Send them a holiday card.

· Mail them an article of personal interest.

· Ask them to lunch with a person of influence.

· Ask them to donate a particular skill they have: bookkeeping, graphic arts, writing, decorations, social media, etc.

Only when you think the individual rates near the top on each side of the giving scale should you launch an active solicitation. And it's regular, planned cultivation that will get you there.

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