Fundraising Guide (English) June 2014 - Page 10

CHAPTER 2: BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH POTENTIAL DONORS Fundraising is not just about money – it is about relationships. If you want to build a strong supporter base, you need to make friends. People give money to organizations they feel connected to and where they feel their contribution is valued. and sources for advice on the web on how to do this. You can find some resources to help you get started in Appendix 3A. NETWORKING AND VISIBILITY Just as it takes many weeks to harvest a crop from a seed, it takes time to grow a prospect into a donor. In professional fundraising, as in farming, this process is called cultivation. WHAT IS CULTIVATION? One of the best ways to find potential funders is by being visible in your field on a local or regional level. It is important to participate in professional networks so you can meet new people, keep learning about your field, and come to be known as an expert. As you get to know people, you will be introduced to potential supporters and learn about new opportunities for training or funding. Cultivation is the process of developing a relationship over time with a potential or current donor. It is how you get to know each other, build trust, and gain consistent support. This process can take weeks, months, or years and can be tailored to any kind of prospective donor. There is no single fixed way to cultivate donors, as people’s interests and personalities are varied. However, there are some basic tools that all fundraisers use to build relationships that lead to financial support. As your work gets noticed, you may be invited to speak at a conference or participate in a public forum. These events are great ways to highlight your organization and its work. They may also be great events at which to meet potential donors. First, as described in Chapter 1, identify a prospect and determine that they have the ability to support you financially and have real passion for your cause. Now you have a seed to sow. You’re ready to plant that seed and begin the cultivation. THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL NETWORKING Think about establishing an online presence for your organization. While it can be difficult and expensive for a very small organization to build and maintain its own website, especially in countries with unreliable and slow Internet connections, developing an online profile can be a quick and easy way to become visible to the rest of the world. If you can’t afford or don’t have the skills to create a website, you can still create an online presence through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Ning and Orkut. You can create an organizational profile that includes background information, an email point of contact, photos, and news. Facebook and Twitter are also easy ways to let people know what you are doing and recruit “friends” who may eventually grow into supporters, activists, and contributors. They are also a good source for connecting with other organizations and learning about grant opportunities. Here are some basic steps to follow: 1. Research the best way to grow your crop to ensure it flourishes. Try to learn as much as you can about the prospect so you understand their interests and where they may align with yours. 2. Plant the seed in the soil. Verify the capacity of the prospective donor and their passion in your work. This is important; you need to be sure that the seed has the right environment to promote its growth – if the soil is not fertile, the seed could perish. First, research the prospect’s prior giving, and then make an initial approach via phone, email, letter, or inperson conversation. You might say, “I noticed that the ABC Foundation has funded agricultural work in Africa. Would you be open to a conversation about this work? I’d love to learn more about your specific interests and tell you about our programs.” Don’t just talk about yourself and your organization. While this guide does not delve into how to establish an effective web presence, there are many manuals 7