How much is too much cultivation? I’m a believer that you need to spend some time with a donor before you ask them for a gift. For most major and significant gifts, there should be a handful of touch points, before a solicitation is made, and at least one of them should be in-person.
Starting in a new job I inherited a few donors that were in the very middle of their cultivation process. In fact, some of them were fully ready to be solicited. I have a really hard time soliciting a donor with whom I’ve never established a relationship. So I scheduled some intentional conversations and touch points to introduce myself.
I’ve found too little cultivation results in unsuccessful solicitations. If that has been no previous cultivation, often times a solicitation appointment becomes a cultivation appointment. When you cultivate an appropriate amount donors know what’s coming, they know why you want to talk with them. But, if every meeting you have with a donor is cultivation, you end up becoming a bad steward of the donor’s and organizations time. Overly cultivated donors either become comfortable never making a gift or they decide they’ve waited too long for you to ask and will make a gift without being asked. With a preemptive gift a donor often gives far less than an organization hopes or intends. There is a huge value in having that opportunity to ask for a specific gift for a targeted reason.