Building a Successful Development Program

Focus on personal connection.

As professional fundraisers we are often asked for the “secret sauce” in fundraising.  In our opinion, the secret sauce is the most obvious ingredient in any relationship. 

It’s prioritizing personal connection.

Donors want to be known, even if they don’t want to be publicly recognized.  Knowing a donor means knowing their interests in your organization and how often they want to hear from you. Are they interested in volunteering?

Fundraising research supports volunteerism as a donor cultivation tool and can give them a meaningful connection to your clients and your programs (Bekkers, 2010) (De Abreu et al., 2015).  Knowing your donor also means showing appreciation in a way that is meaningful to them.

It sounds like a lot of work but building a long-term relationship with your donor is much more efficient than constantly finding new donors.   There’s wisdom in the old adage, “make new friends, but keep the old.”

Focusing on donor retention is the most cost-effective way to raise revenue. 

Research from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project shows that if you can secure that second gift, the likelihood of continued giving is much higher.  And building on an existing relationship takes less time than getting to know a new donor. 

Kathleen Lennard
Kathleen Lennard founded Good Work Partnership to help organizational executives succeed in the life-impacting work they do each day. By focusing on strategy creation, change management, operational process, program evaluation, and development, she partners with organizations to reach next-level success in the midst of complexity and change.

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