Fundraising appeals

How Much ‘Relationship’ is Enough?

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When fundraising is like the gawky guy or gal who just needs to ask for the date!

There are lots of books, blogs, webinars and conference sessions about stewardship and building relationships with donors.  Most I have seen are good, and the theories would work if charity staff did them.

But most take a long time and involve developing big cases for support, many meetings, lots of research and more.

They also rely on experienced and rare staff talent.

Looking around at data, as well as having an understanding of how many charities operate, most stewardship and relationship plans simply don’t work.


Impatience, too many distractions and short employment periods all contribute to the failure. As does the challenge to get the talented staff or the difficulty in dealing with staff who are simply not up for the job.

Also, we tend to aim a little high, and often try to build relationships with people who have a capacity to give but no previous relationship directly with our charity.

A while back I came up with a little program that I called ‘Major Donors, Next Week.’

The idea is for charities with large enough databases to turn donors who give, say $1,000 to donors who give $2,500 very quickly.

It has even increased donors to give over $10,000.

This is possible using these tools and thoughts:

1. Donors who have given well above average already have a relationship with you – all you need to do is make a special ask.

2. Better direct marketing will help, but nothing beats face to face conversations.

3. You don’t need big or new cases for support – your direct marketing is already working on this group, so base your ask around the work you have featured in your direct marketing.

4. Only research donors after they have agreed to meet.

5. Meet and ask. Yes, ask in that first meeting.

6. Do this next week, or it doesn’t work.

Go on, give it a go!

Let me know if you’d like to find out more!

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