I knew a very successful fundraiser who worked for a small local hospital. Let’s call her Mary. Mary’s main goal each January was to make a list of ten individuals she wished to develop into major donors in the future. Some of the individuals she listed were current donors to her organization, some were donor prospects she knew, and some were individuals she did not know but wished to introduce to her organization. After Mary developed her Top Ten list, it remained her permanent list for year.
Each Monday morning when Mary arrived at the office, she first looked at her Top Ten list. She then decided how she would engage these individuals in the coming week. What would she do this week to connect with these individuals in a personal way? Would it be a call or note of thanks for a recent donation or assistance as a volunteer? Should she send an invitation to an event to introduce a new donor prospect to her charity?
Every Friday afternoon her last task of the week was to review her goals with this group for the week and chart progress.
In the first year of compiling the list, Mary was able to move one of these ten individuals to a major donor. The next year two on the list became major donors and it grew from there. Each January she reviewed the list and added new prospects to the Top Ten for the new year.
Mary told me before she retired that her work on these lists formed the majority of the major donors to her charity over time. I hope this hospital continued her great work in prospect identification, cultivation and stewardship.
Mary’s story also highlights the need for all of us to develop plans, continue to review them throughout the year and focus on a few key things each year with consistent follow-up.
Why not start your own Top Ten list this year? If you are a board chair, it may be a Top Ten list of individuals you would love to recruit as new leadership volunteers. If you are a professional advisor, it may be a list of new potential clients. Fundraisers, you know what to do!
I would be interested to hear if anyone else has used this approach in the past and how it is working for you. For those who will try it for the first time, let me know of your progress.
Tomorrow is closer than you think. Get started this Monday!