The meeting’s over and you’ve got the gift, a commitment to think about it, or maybe even a “not now but later.” So what do you do next? How do you further cultivate your donor throughout the year?
The hardest part is behind you, but there are still important steps to take. Your next step won’t be to ask for money, but you might ask for advice, participation, connections, and so forth.
Follow-through is not only everything you do right after you’ve had a meeting, but everything you do after that point to close the gift or continue to cultivate a donor who has made a gift. In reality your follow-through after the solicitation is almost as important as asking for the gift itself.
Don’t miss out on downloading our free PDF, Brian’s Top Ten: Ways to Make Your Donors Feel Special.
Here are the top five immediate steps to take after meeting with a donor:
1. Send thanks
The number one thing to do is immediately send thanks. Thanks for whatever—for any response. Even if a donor turned you down flat, you send a thanks for the meeting. This can be by phone, by text, or by email based on your relationship. An immediate thanks underscores to donors their importance.
2. Remind the prospect of the next steps
In this same follow-up be sure to refer to an action step that came out of the meeting—e.g., by what date you’ll forward information, on what date you will follow up, or what the prospect has agreed to do. This creates accountability and can also clarify the occasional misunderstandings that arise during these meetings.
3. Share your information
Make sure everyone who needs to know what transpired, knows. Any staff or volunteers involved in the cultivation or in the relationship generally need to know what occurred. The last thing you want is someone embarrassed to find out from the donor later that a gift was considered or made when that person should have known already.
4. Create your next action step
You always need a next step. It might be sending more material, confirming another meeting, or getting the formal acknowledgment out the door. If a gift is pending, who else might help convince this prospect to give? If the gift has been made, how will you continue to cultivate the donor?
5. Write up your notes
This is one of those tasks everyone likes to put off, but it’s often at a great loss of information. We all know that the longer we take to recall things, the less we remember. If I write a contact report within 24 hours of the meeting, it ends up being much longer than the contact report I write after 48 hours or within a week.
A special note here. Over the years I’ve written thousands of contact reports. I’ve never wanted to write a single one of them, but I’ve always known an important part of my role is to create a history for everyone who would interact with the donor along with me and after I was gone. The last thing I’ve wanted is for staff and volunteers to have to start from scratch getting to know a donor. That’s not going to make a donor feel good.
Find more advice and learn about following through with donors here
The preceding is a guest post by Brian Saber, president, Asking Matters. He promises that, as the least expensive and best-quality resource in the field, Asking Matters will help countless organizations continue to do incredible work for their causes.