by Clint Holden, M.A. - It is extremely important for school leaders to understand and embrace the dimensions of successful development processes. When development suffers, the school suffers. When development grows, the school grows.
Much of the following is adapted from the writing of Jerry Twombly, founder of CDP, and shared by permission. Please visit www.cdppro.com to learn more.
What Is Development?
While most people might think of development as “fundraising,” it is so much more far-reaching. School development is more typically known to involve the following essentials of operations: Fundraising, student recruitment, public relations, volunteer recruitment/retention, database management, and strategic planning. But, most of all, development is relational!
Development represents those things we do within our organization to build rational relationships with others. Successful development encompasses doing the right things organizationally, the right way, at the right time, involving the right people and resources, to sustain the involvement of our constituents.
Development Work is Relational – The primary focus of development is the establishment of relationships.
The Role of Emotion in Relationships – While people may be drawn emotionally to the work of your school; they will only sustain their involvement with you as they become rationally committed to your mission. Like falling in love, “It is an emotion that brings us together; it is rationalism that keeps us together.”
The Role of Rationalism in Relationships – No one feels abused and manipulated in a true relationship. Individuals within a relationship don’t expect perfection. They do expect to be dealt with honestly and with integrity.
KEY FACTOR #1 - PLANNING
Most non-profit organizations operate without one or more of those things important to their development success. A sense of frustration often characterizes board members, administrative staff, personnel, constituents, and prospective donors of these organizations.
Development work is infrastructural. Every day you build an infrastructure to support what you will do tomorrow. It is an understanding of this important fact that could change the effectiveness of your organization.
Why Donors Continue to Give
Key FACTOR #2 – PROSPECTING DONORS
Many organizations express frustration for their lack of potential prospects. It should be remembered that no organization lacks the potential of accomplishing its goals. In the discussion of potential prospects, it is important to understand the difference between your organization’s universe and market universe.
Key FACTOR #3 – QUALIFYING DONORS
The development process is somewhat analogous to courtship. Once a prospective marriage partner has been identified, generally a process takes place wherein we determine whether or not we want to pursue the relationship (we qualify, or narrow down the field)! There are a variety of ways in which development qualification occurs. Included among them are:
Linkage – Simply stated, “the closer someone is linked to you; the greater the likelihood that they will support you.” There are two kinds of linkage:
*An Important Reminder – One of the most important developmental initiatives is to create linkage among those groups of people with whom we do not have natural linkage.
Relationships – Of the multiplied thousands of potential prospects with whom you have the potential of building a relationship, each one will fall into one of three broad categories. These are:
Another way to qualify prospects is based on their assumed wealth. Some organizations create an arbitrary system for qualifying prospects using a scale similar to the following.
KEY FACTOR #4 - MEASURING DONOR AFFINITY (Interest)
A key step in the developmental process is cultivation. It is the “courtship” aspect of relationship building. It takes time, energy, and planning. It must be tracked to be truly developmentally effective.
Not Everyone Is In the Same Relationship With You – It is important to remember that not everyone you identify as someone with whom you would like to build a relationship is in the same relationship with your organization and your mission as the person next to him or her in your prospect database. A common mistake made in development is to treat everyone on the database alike. This “cookie-cutter” approach to development prevents organizations from achieving their developmental potential. Think of prospects from a cultivation standpoint in one of four broad categories:
An “A” level prospect – has a match in all three AID categories (attended something you sponsored, are actively involved, and made contributions in the past).
A “B” level prospect – has a match in two of the three AID categories.
A “C” level prospect – has a match in just one of the three AID categories.
A “D” level prospect – has no match in any of the AID categories (has some linkage to the school - not the “Bill Gates” type of prospect).
KEY FACTOR #5 - ASSESSING INVESTMENT POTENTIAL
Prospects who have invested something in your work are most likely to become sustained donors. Not all prospects are invested. Non-invested “D” cultivated prospects are very unlikely donors. Something has to happen to improve the likelihood of their involvement both now and in the future.
CONCULSION (for now)
These are the basic factors that must precede solicitation. To do an end-around on any of the above can be detrimental to schools being successful in truly establishing development strengths. To learn more above establishing step-by-step essentials for fund development at your school CLICK HERE.
Authored by Clint Holden
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