Monday, February 11, 2013

The Development Process: Cultivation

Cultivation is where it all begins, so to speak...

How do you even begin?  How do you get to know folks who may be interested in your organization who who have never even met...yet?

Here are some ideas that will get you going:

1.  "Who-do" cards/mailings/emails - The best advertisement is word of mouth, right?  It is.  Send a postcard or mailing with a way to reply to your current donors, friends, etc. and ask them for the names and basic contact information for five of their acquaintances that might have an interest in your organization. 

2.  One up that idea and go electronic - Send your email list an email to the same effect and on every outgoing email be sure it is forwarding-friendly and encourage everyone on your list to pass the information along.  Send out a special email two times a year with the intent of picking up new constituents.  Include basic information in that email making it appropriate for your donors and friends to pass along saying, "this is an organization which I believe in and I would like to share some information about them with you."

3.  List Share - Collaborate with like-minded organizations in your area to share lists of donors/friends.  For instance, if you are one type of arts organization and there is a similar arts organization in your area where you might have an overlap of constituents but you might also be able to pick up new ones, ask if they would like to exchange lists. 

4.  Chamber of Commerce Lists - Most chambers offer their members access to mailing lists and most already in an Excel format to merge into a letter.  This couldn't be easier!  Get the list, work through it to remove what you need to and mail out an introductory letter with a reply option.  Then, follow up on those letters by phone about 7-10 days after mailing.

5.  Event follow-up - At every event, be sure to offer guests a way to get on your list so to speak.  Many of your guests will be first-time friends who have come with an existing donor/friend so don't lose those valuable new friends by letting them slip out the door with out getting their contact information and asking for a contribution.

Getting newbies on your list is just the beginning.  Next time, we'll walk Susie Soon-to-be Supporter through the process.

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