Business Sense

Donor Development is about Relationship Building; Date your donor!

Building relationships takes time. Donors have to be cultivated and courted. It is like dating.


Non profit organizations are far more sophisticated in their marketing techniques today. Leads are identified based on likes, needs, wants, and capacity to give. Donors may have participated in your past fund raisers. Now they want to take the connection to the next level.  They may want a more intimate relationship with your non profit.  How does the non profit make this happen?  They date the donor!

I would not go on a date with somebody I did not know. At a minimum, they would need some type of referral or set-up.  And I cannot imagine giving a substantial sum of money to a community service organization without understanding their mission,  the effectiveness of their operation, and the people running the place.   I would need an introduction over coffee and muffins, an opportunity to read their 990 and some examples of their success.  If you can meet a potential donor (date) based on a referral then that is a great thing.

Hopefully, coffee muffins and the 990 reviews went great. The donor and fund developer are hitting if off and both are excited about what comes next. I suggest more coffee and donuts. Mom and dad told you don’t rush into big relationships. This was/is good advice. Bigger commitments usually take longer to solidify.

Hopefully, you and the donor are hitting it off.  Before you know it you are dating.  Invite your donor to meet family (your clients, staff and other donors). Let the “family” sing your praises over Sunday pot roast and apple pie. Let the family tell the donor how they would fit right into the group.

After your smooth courtship, it is time to pop the question.  If you have planned your dating well then the donor is probably expecting you to pop the “question”.  They may have dropped some hints to you and are starting to wonder what took you so long to ask!

After sealing the relationship never, never, ever take your donor for granted.  Give the donor authentic thanks and praise and make sure they feel part of your close knit family.  Messing up this part would be a disaster. It makes the difference between a new donor that is a disciple or a donor  that wants a divorce and writes you out of the will!


Marketing Strategy for Non Profits

A sage mentor of mine told me “Jacki, if you can measure it you can make it”. Couple that with other popular sayings, “you must kiss frogs before you meet the prince”, and “begin with the end in mind”, and you have the basic ingredients for moving your business/firm/organization from the concept to the reality phase.

I do a lot of work with non profits.  Many are interested in growing their donor pools after very difficult macro economic conditions (2008-to-the-present) left them with financial difficulties.

The first thing we do is identify how much money is needed; then we translate that into how many donors that would be. (Sometimes these calculations indicate goals are unrealistic or that several years will be needed for achievement.)

Optimistically, a business, organization and or non profit is doing very well if they get a 10-15% take rate.   So, if you need 15 donors, then you will need to identify and contact 100 leads!   Planning provides the expectations about the effort necessary for success.  It also provides 2 things to measure

  • total calls = 100
  • donors expected to say yes = 15.

In reality it may take 200 calls to get the donors. Calling the leads provides you with feedback (market feedback) about how your goods are being accepted in the market place.  There are no guarantees in business; however, having plans and targets makes operating less like luck and magic!




Number Crunching – Who should you hire and why?

Did we meet our financial targets?

Is cash flow positive?

What do we tell the investors?”

“What is the budget?”

“Did we get top revenue?” 

“Are the customers paying on time?”

“What about the competition?” 

“What about the future?


Finance is a vast profession with many nuances and specialties. During my work with small-to-mid sized companies, I get many questions that indicate that clients need help with the “numbers” and they also need to know what each function does.

My role in helping my client starts with an assessment of their firm’s present/future state financial needs, and an education about financial titles. During an engagement, the client and I look at what materials they have, evaluate opportunities for immediate efficiency improvement, and look for ways to make number crunching easy.

A firm’s leader wants to get the numbers quickly so she can interpret and assess what is going on with the business.  In some cases, present systems have incremental runway; but firms may need IT upgrades and more talent.

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