Archive | May, 2012

It’s All About Relationships Part 3 – The Proposal

22 May

Monday, May 21, 2012

In the same way that most people wouldn’t accept marriage proposal on the first date, most people will be turned off if you propose a request for a sponsorship or donation without first getting to know your potential donor. We’ve already talked about aligning yourself with the right type of donor and from there nurturing the relationship. Now it’s time to propose. “The ask”, I would venture to say, takes the most tact of all. Not only does it have to be well-timed, but it needs to be carefully crafted and impeccably precise.

Before the Proposal
There’s still a little more prep work to be done before you can ask. Now that you understand that people get involved with organizations because of some emotional need and since you’ve identified this purpose, you need to write your pitch. Why not pitch with a great story? Mark Rovner, of Sea Change Strategies, says that

“[t]here is no more sure fire way to engage someone emotionally than through dramatic stories.”

Want to write a really great story? Here are 4 steps from Katya Andresen – an awesome non-profit bloogger/expert and author of Robin Hood Marketing – to ensure you do just that:

    1. Include a relatable character, someone that your potential donor can identify with. “What unites us all are the trials and tribulations of being human.”
    2. Don’t be afraid to use conflict; in fact, it’s encouraged and will express the humanity
    3. Who/what is your villain? There is always an antagonist in every great story. Maybe it’s poverty or lack of funding for arthritis research. Whatever it is, bring it out into thd open.
    4. Tap into emotional responses by using detail words that conjure a response from one of the sense.
“…the best stories are the ones in which we see ourselves: ‘It is our ability to imagine ourselves in story’s circumstances that makes stories work.'”

The Proposal
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting and rehearsing for. The ask is all about connecting on a real, human level. While planning on how you’re going to propose, always consider the emotional impact of their donation whether it be money, time or in-kind. You’ll also need to determine when the best time is to propose. The setting will determine when to ask. If you’re hosting a fundraising event, consider doing your program with the ask before the meal. If it’s a one-on-one meeting, wait for cues in the conversation or from the person. But whatever the setting, be strategic about when you are going to pop the question.

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and to the point, but don’t sacrifice impact. (30 seconds is all you really need.)
  • Remember your audience and their higher purpose and speak to that end.
  • Rehearse your story so it sounds real and uncontrived.
  • Always speak from the heart to convey your passion.
  • A genuine ‘thank you’ goes a long way. 
Your turn: What do you feel is the best time to make “the ask” during a fundraising dinner? How do you propose to a potential business sponsor? Please share some of your experiences in the “Comments” section below. Thanks!

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[For more on amazing storytelling, check out Katya’s blog.] 

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It’s All About Relationships Part 2: Courtship

10 May

Thursday, May 10, 2012   

Business connections, as in all relationships, require a great deal of effort. Once you’ve found Mr. Right, it’s time to follow up and nurture the budding relationship. A relationship that is not tended to will definitely become a missed opportunity. 

The First Date

Now it’s time to go on your first date with your ideal mate (read: donor/constituent/customer). This can be done over the phone, but ideally it will be in person for a more intimate approach. It’s all about the donor; the only information you should give about your organization is in response to their questions. You will use your “first date” as a get-to-know-you session:

  • What are their likes and interests?
  • What about them makes them a perfect fit for your organization?  
  • Where are they in the involvement funnel (i.e. What is their availability? In what ways are they interested in participating?)
  • What are their needs are expectations from this involvement? 
  • How does your organization’s mission fulfill a need that they have?

Courtship

If all goes well, your first date will blossom into a beautiful courtship. But first you have to follow up after the first date. It doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Instead use it as an opportunity to demonstrate another dimension of your organization’s brand. (Every orgnization has a brand promise to fulfill. This goes for non-profits as well.) The first follow up should simply be a personal phone call or note expressing gratitude and appreciation for their time and interest. 

Continue to nurture the relationship with regular communication. Get them on your mailing list(s) and/or send a personalized e-mail here and there to check in. [Caveat: Always, always ask permission before including someone new on your mailing list.]  There’s no need to be pushy. At this point, you’re still getting to know the person and introducing your organization. Consider the following ideas:

  • E-newsletters
  • Social media engagement
  • Blog follows and responses
  • Invitations to signature events

Things to remember about this stage: a) maintain regular communication and b) do not ask…yet!!
Up next week is “The Proposal” and there will be lots of good stuff about “the ask” so stay tuned. 

Your turn: How do you court potential donors/constituents? Do you find that when you follow up, you get a better rate of participation/response? I’d love to hear your comments.

Please let me know what you thought of this article. Thanks!

 

Related Posts:
It’s All About Relationships Part 1 – Meeting Mr./Miss Right

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It’s All About Relationships Part 1 – Meeting Mr./Miss Right

2 May

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 

The foundation for any successful business is relationships, whether we’re talking about a for-profit company or a not-for-profit organization. Lets think of it this way: You wouldn’t say yes to a marriage proposal on a blind date, would you? (Ok, I understand that there are some…er…adventurous?…people who might. But the general population would at least consider a second date first.) Maybe that example is a bit of a stretch, but it gives you a good idea of how to approach business relationships. For the purposes of this series, I’m going to use the premise of a non-profit organization. I’ll take you through the courtship of potential donors. Today we’ll start with ‘The Search’.

Meeting Mr./Miss Right = Cultivation

Before you can court someone, you have to find the right person, make connections, which is called cultivation. During the cultivation stage you are simply putting forth information out into the world and letting your “wing man” (to borrow a phrase) talk you up. How is this done? I’m glad you asked…

Fangelism
I believe that the foundation of cultivation should be this amazing principle called fangelismthe idea that existing volunteers and constituents, who already have a passion for the cause, engage people, initiate conversation and, ultimately, ignite excitement and promote action. All the other pieces should then fall into place. Consider this: If given a choice between a self-serving advertisement or an amazing recommendation from a third-party, which are you likely to trust more? Create fangelists to be the voices of the organization and help build relationships. Those people will then come and form relationships within your organization in an organic and personal way. They participate because they don’t feel pressured or conned. 

Social Media 

 People listen to each other more than us, so we need to stop viewing social media as another form of getting our message out…Its primary value is that it allows other people to get the message out, for us. – Katya Andersen   

This is particularly pertinent for those in the non-profit realm. After all, your ultimate goal is to promote your cause. The best way to do that is to support relationship building. Relationships are formed every day on social media. Donors don’t need another organization telling them why they should donate. Instead, give them a platform to share with you and other donors about their experiences — their stories, their souls — which will foster the support you need. Now, social media is just one platform non-profits have for cultivation, but it’s hugely relevant in our digital world and probably a good place to start. Use it to inform potential the community, promote events, stimulate thought, ignite movements, etc.

Ideas for Success
The key is to make people feel welcome to share on your social media pages and keep that momentum going. 

  • Make your Facebook timeline look and feel like a safe haven for story sharing. Timeline gives you ample opportunities for creativity. For ideas, check out other non-profit pages.
  • Have a current fangelist initiate discussion threads, themed posts or polls.
  • Invite a guest blogger to write about their experiences, which encourages others to share. 
  • Use Twitter hashtags (#) to initiate a collection of short stories.
  • Sign up for Pinterest and post relevant pictures that will cause people to dig a little deeper.
I would love to hear your ideas. Please share them in the comments section below so that others can benefit from your amazing creativity. Check back next week for the next installment in the series. 
Thanks for stopping by.
~Laura~ 
 
Other related blog posts:
Fangelism

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