“How do you build relationships with donors when you have to juggle everything else involved with fundraising (appeals, events, communications, data entry, etc.)?”
That’s a great question, and it’s one I’ve heard many times.
I know about being in the tiny shop.
Many times, I was “IT” – the fundraiser, resource development girl, data entry person, volunteer coordinator, media relations person, event coordinator, grantwriter, and whatever else needed to be done.
It’s not easy. And everything doesn’t always get done. Yet, I was able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in a 1-person fundraising shop.
Prioritize and Act
The first thing you have to do is to prioritize.
Ask yourself “What’s the MOST important thing that has to get done today?” Do it first. When it’s done, ask yourself “What’s the NEXT MOST important thing that has to get done today?” Repeat until you’re out of tasks or out of time.
Top priority activities include anything that generates money, builds relationships, spreads the word about your nonprofit organization, or brings some other resource to the table.
When you evaluate your to-do list, get honest with yourself about what really needs attention because not everything does.
Once you decide what your top priority is, focus on that task until it’s complete. I recommend closing email, and maybe even turning off your phone to give yourself the quiet time you need to concentrate. Email, phone calls, and texts are interruptions that will cause everything to take up to 100 times longer to complete, and who has time for that? You’ll survive a few minutes or even a couple of hours without email and your phone.
I also recommend that you find ways to systematize everything possible in your office, to make the work flow smoother and quicker. You may even be able to automate a few things, to take advantage of the technology you have.
In the Get Fully Funded system, I show you how to create systems and get help that supports you in your work. If you don’t yet have the Get Fully Funded system, you’ll find it here. There’s even a link for a Sneak Preview–you can download the entire first chapter for free to sample the material!
Be careful not to make a mountain out of a molehill in your mind about building donor relationships.
Building a relationship on purpose really doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult, yet a lot of people get nervous about it, mostly because they haven’t done much of it before. It doesn’t need to be complicated or take a lot of time to get to know your donors and what they’re interested in.
I recommend you start with your top 10 individual donors, and create a plan for starting those relationships over the 3 months. That means you only need to reach out to 3 people during the first month. Add 3 more the next month, then 4 in the 3rd month, and you’ll have all 10 at some point in a relationship-building process.
Also keep in mind, that building a relationship with a donor isn’t manipulative. You are simply getting to know a donor on behalf of your organization, with the goal of partnering with them to serve more people through your nonprofit’s mission. That’s all. It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.
Finally, remember that if you’re only able to get started with 10 relationships this year, that’s 10 more than you had, and if even half of those people decide to give you a larger gift, you’re better off and your nonprofit will reap the rewards.