Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Power donor relationship building

The difference between Tiger Woods and the next guy is easily in the fundamentals -- the grip, the stance, the swing. More precisely, it's in how each one executes those fundamentals. The difference between a good fundraiser and a great one? It's in the fundamentals as well.

Through his book, Let's Have Lunch Together, the workshops hosted by his namesake consulting firm, and through his speeches, Marshall Howard teaches the importance of building strong relationships. "You must figure out how to climb up the relationship ladder, develop donor relationships, rather than try to figure out schemes to separate them from their money," said Howard, who spoke at the New Jersey Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2006 Conference on Philanthropy.

Howard offered the four fundamentals of "power" relationship building:

1. Reach out. To create high emotional-impact time with prospective donors, consider how you communicate with them. "I don't email. Emails create the lowest impact of anything - one notch below letters." Having figured out through relationship building what his clients enjoy, Howard, for example, takes one client shopping, and another wine-tasting - high emotional-impact time.

2. Be more curious. "Why in the world do you keep your curiosity under wraps?" asked Howard. He then cited the "law of reciprocity," which, when loosely defined, suggests that when you share, there's an urgent need to share back. "Share, and ask questions. They will share back -- they can't help themselves."

3. Put the "person" first. Get to know the prospective donor as a person first, prospective donor (or board member, volunteer, etc.) second. Collectively create mosaics about the prospective donor -- and do it as a team, both organizationally and through high emotional-impact time with the prospect.

4. Uncover values, goals and interests, mutual and individual. The ability to connect is controlled by emotions, feelings and beliefs, said Howard. Every human being seeks to connect, and the stronger that connection, the more emotional energy that exists. The law of emotional reciprocity, loosely defined, suggests that when one gives, there's a need and a desire by the recipient to give back. "People decide emotionally; they justify logically. That said, why when we go see a donor do we plow them with facts?," asked Howard, who said that 88 percent of decisions are based on gut feeling, not fact.