Hello! And welcome to day three of our Fearless 2018 series. Our goal this year (and every year!) is deeper donor relationships and bigger gifts. To that end, we’ve been focused this week on one-to-one email communication for gift officers.
Today we’re going to talk about the role of email in building strong donor/prospect relationships. And, once again, I will dip into my collection of proven email templates to give you a copy-and-pastable example of what works.
Building Relationships with Email
As a gift officer, you’re in the business of relationships. Starting them, growing them, inspiring investment, and then providing outstanding stewardship.
Let’s say you’ve made first contact and qualified your prospect. You’re feeling good about her capacity and inclination to give. It’s time to grow the relationship.
Now, email alone is not a good cultivation strategy. But it is a useful tool, and it can help you keep a relationship warm.
Relational momentum is critical in the world of major gifts. It takes 18-24 months, on average, to successfully cultivate, solicit, and receive one.
How do you keep things moving forward during that time?
Face-to-face visits, and events, I believe, will always be the primary tools of cultivation. Getting your prospect to sign up for a volunteer opportunity is also powerful.
But what about all the time in between? There will inevitably be some gaps – often as long as several months.
What do you do when you get that gnawing, It’s been a while since I last did anything with so-and-so feeling?
Here are some quick, easy ideas that don’t require much more than a great email:
- Send them updates on projects you know they’re interested in
- Send updates on significant gifts made by others in their social circle
- Introduce your prospects to people they’re interested in meeting
- Wish them Happy Birthday
- Wish them Happy Holidays
- Wish them Happy New Year
- Send your prospects links to articles or other information
- Send them recaps following trustee meetings or meetings of other leadership groups
- Get them excited about an event before the official invitation goes in the mail
- Get them excited about a volunteer opportunity before officially asking them to participate
- Send them quotes, speeches, opinion pieces, and/or updates from your President or Executive Director
I’m sure there are more! How do you keep relationships warm when there are several months between major cultivation touches? Leave a comment below.
It takes discipline – that’s the challenge. As a gift officer, it’s so easy to focus all your attention on that next big meeting, or an upcoming trip. Or events.
It takes time to write a good cultivation email, let alone to a prospect you don’t plan to solicit for 12 or more months. There are more pressing things!
Yet, we know that solicitations are much more successful when the cultivation has been good and the relationship is warm. Maintaining a strong pipeline is essential.
Two things will help you stay committed to this important practice:
1. Calendar it
Know your donor’s birthday? Put it on your calendar so you remember to send a card (or email).
Know when you’ll have significant institutional news to announce? Put it on your calendar so you can give your best donors and prospects an early heads up. This will help them feel like insiders.
You can also schedule times to send more routine updates on programs and projects.
Other check-ins, such as the delivery of timely articles, or impromptu news announcements can be made on the the fly and will provide a nice supplement to planned “touches.”
Effective gift officers know how to become their donors’ personal conduit to the life of an organization. This is just good cultivation. And scheduling key touch points in advance will help you stay on track.
The other thing that will keep you moving forward is email templates.
2. Email templates
I have over a dozen “go to” email templates for donor cultivation. And, in fact, one of them is available for download at the bottom of this post.
Yes, you’re trying to close gifts now, but you can’t afford to neglect relationships that are 12, 18, 24 months back in your pipeline.
You also can’t afford to spend hours figuring out what to write to them.
The answer: proven email templates.
And it’s certainly not because every relationship is the same. Far from it.
A good template is like having a solid first draft already written for you. All you need to do is tweak it to fit the particulars of a given relationship and hit “send.”
Another Email Template for You
Since today’s post was on donor cultivation and how email can help, here’s one of my go to templates for building relationships:
Get More of My Templates!
As you can tell, I’m a big believer in email templates. I hope you become one too, if you’re not already. The benefits are numerous:
- Correspond with confidence, knowing that you’re using tested and proven emails
- Avoid the anxiety of not knowing what to say or how to say it
- Save countless hours by not starting from scratch every time you need to write to a prospect
- Interact with more prospects more often because of the time you save
- Nurture your prospect pipeline effectively, at all stages
At the end of the day, my email templates have helped me raise more money and be more successful as a fundraiser. Plain and simple.
For you this week, I’m making a newly updated and expanded collection of my best email templates available—there are 45 of them!
These are battle-tested, word-for-word email scripts, ready for you to copy, paste, tweak, and send.
And, like the templates I’ve given away this week, they’re grounded in theory and incorporate best-practices from the worlds of sales, marketing, persuasion psychology, and of course, fundraising:
If you and/or your team are ready to take a major step forward in 2018 in the way you communicate with your donors and prospects, this collection is for you.
Not only will you get 45 proven templates—the same ones I used to raise major gifts in a multi-billion dollar campaign—you’ll also get over 20 pages of bonus material.
Sure, you can copy and paste my templates—you’ll get results if you do. But, I also want to show you WHY they work. In the bonus material, I reveal all the underlying theory.
More Material Tomorrow
There’s more good stuff on the way tomorrow. Here’s what to expect:
- We’ll talk about what to do if you reach out to a prospect and he doesn’t reply.
- I’ll also go a little deeper into how many emails you should send to a prospect and when you should send them.
- And, of course, you’ll get another one of my proven email templates!
Stay tuned. I’ll see you tomorrow.