Donor relationships, from inception and beyond
by Helen Alderson
I absolutely loved leading my first ever session at the 2019 North East Fundraising Conference with Jessica Murphy from St Oswald’s Hospice. The session guided attendees through the steps required to recruit new supporters, build relationships, set realistic fundraising targets. whilst maintaining the relationship throughout.
I thought I would write this article to share some of the top tips from the session that I believe can be helpful to anyone across a range of fundraising disciplines:

• When promoting a new event/engagement opportunity draw up a shortlist of individuals and/or organisations starting with the warmest and working outwards. Those that are current donors, have donated to your charity within the last three years, or ones that you have had contact with in some capacity are much more likely to give you a quicker response. Those that you haven’t had any contact with will take the most amount of time to build a relationship with. The key here is to decide how much time you have to dedicate to your goal and what section those you have existing contact with fall within. Use these donor circles below for reference.
• If you are contacting anyone other than those you have the warmest relationship with (meaning you could call them and your relationship is that it feels almost like you are asking a friend for a favour), approach them by asking for their advice. Typically people will respond more positively if they feel as if their input is valuable. NEVER try to pitch to them at your first point of contact. Your aim, at this stage, is to organise a face-to-face meeting where they can get to know you and learn more about how you can work together.
• Once you have met and decided upon how they will support your charity, work together to set a fundraising target by using the “SMART” principles. In addition ask them how much they have previously raised for charities and how comfortable they were in doing so. Use that information to guide them towards a figure – but always make sure that the supporter sets the final target!
• Throughout the partnership make sure you regularly check in and say thank you. Your supporter will be extremely excited and proud to be working with the charity at the beginning and it’s your job to make sure they stay that way! If they are part of a larger organisation, run staff workshops so that everyone who is contributing to your cause is well aware of the difference they are making.

• At the end of the partnership make sure you celebrate! And celebrate on their terms – ask them what they would like to do and do it! Finally, make sure you review the partnership by asking them what they enjoyed and what they would have changed. You can put this into practice for next time you work together, as well as using it for your own learning going forwards.

I had such a great time delivering this step-by-step approach as a conference session, helping fundraisers from a range of disciplines. I can’t wait for the fundraising training programme that KEDA Consulting will be launching early in 2020. If you are keen to improve your relationship building skills; community and corporate fundraising; trust fundraising; or learn more about another element of the fundraising mix, register your interest here.

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