The Multi-Year Cultivation

Fundraising today often suffers from short-term strategy and immediate successes. At many organizations the donors, especially major donors, have a longer history with the nonprofit than the staff. Because of this many donors give significantly below their capacity. Donors want to be comfortable and confident their gift will be used responsibly and effectively to accomplish a mission they are passionate about.

As a development professional it is easy to take the position that we would like donors to give a larger and larger gift each year. Sometimes we even feel a bit of disappointment when we have done a lot of research about a donor, creatively and professionally prepared for a solicitation, only for the donor to give significantly lower than we hope. Do not be discouraged.

Donors test the waters for years sometimes before giving a big gift. Many times that large gift we failed to get in the short-term only sets the stage for a larger gift down the road. Coming to the solicitation fully prepared with a plan that interests the giver can plant the seed for a larger gift down the road. If we are responsible with little it proves and encourages the donor to allow us to be responsible with a lot.

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One Response to The Multi-Year Cultivation

  1. Janice Chan says:

    This reminds me of an article on the Oxfam site about results vs. metrics: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/articles/getting-results-from-our-aid-rethinking-what-we-measure

    However, when results are things we won’t know for another 10 years, it’s nice to have some indication of whether we’re on the right track or not. The fact that someone gives year after year (regardless of the size of the gift) is one. Do you have any benchmarks (personally or at organizations where you’ve worked) for donor cultivation prior to them making the first gift?

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