Cultivation is that period of time that starts with the first meeting between a prospect and an organization and the official “ask”. There are so many ways to cultivate a prospect, many of which involve events.
Events work….don’t get me wrong. They are a great way to engage prospects and donors in areas that they are passionate about supporting. But, events can be costly, take a lot of time to arrange, and often are less than well attended.
In a recent meeting of our Development Team I asked the question: “What are some of the ways you cultivate your prospects and donors that doesn’t involve events?” I received a lot of interesting ideas. Here are some of the best:
- Give a tour of the university, focusing on an area of interest to the prospect. Many prospects haven’t seen all that is new to the university. And, sometimes just want to tour areas that were interesting to them when they were a student years ago. Once their area of interest is determined, tours of research labs, museums, or new facilities are all great ways to cultivate interest in your organization.
- Ask a prospect for advice. Many prospects have experience and expertise that can help your cause. Asking for advice gives your prospect the feeling that they are helping you succeed and that can successfully lead to a future donation to your organization.
- Send them a publication or article of interest. After finding out what interests your prospects, a creative next step is looking into that area of interest and following up with an article or information that supports their interest.
- Take a picture of a place in their past and send to them. Suppose a prospect has told you about a part of campus that really meant something to them, or an area in town that holds significance to them. Taking a picture and sending it to them shows that you have listened to them and care.
- Take them up on offers of help. Allowing prospects to help with events or development projects is an excellent way to further their interest in your programs and cause.
These were just a few of the excellent cultivation ideas that came out in our recent development meeting. It’s so important to share ideas across the industry that we can all benefit from. I’m sure you have others ideas that we haven’t thought of yet. I invite you to share your ideas by leaving a comment below.
Photo Credit: Cultivating prospects