Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Strategic Donor Relations Plan... Killing Me Softly

Ok, so I'm listening to some 90's jams this morning and one of my favorite Fugees songs comes on, "Killing Me Softly". As I was searching for a blog topic about 3am, I thought "Insane in the Brain" wasn't as good of a fit, but it may be... OPP certainly isn't. I love receiving emails from across the globe and do my best to respond to each and every one within 24 hours. The one email I just can't understand and the one that every time I receive frustrates me to my core is the email where someone says the following, "I'm new/have a new boss and I need a copy of a sample strategic plan for donor relations". Please don't view this blog post as an unattractive rant, instead, see it as a vision for the future. Asking that is the same as the folks who get on listservs or Linkedin discussion groups and say "I need some good ideas for how to steward my donors". Those same folks are then upset that they don't get specific responses.

Here's the answer- I can't give you someone's strategic plan. There is no Google keyword search that brings any of them up. I can give you samples of comprehensive plans, calendars of activities and as many other samples as you could ever imagine, if I don't have it posted, heck, I'll go find it for you. But I can't and won't give you a strategic plan I've created or another organization has created. I can teach you how to do a GAP analysis and determine your strategy based on the strategic goals of your leadership. I can show you how to survey your donors, gain feedback and build a program specific to your organization's needs. 

Let's take this one step further. Every single client I work with, every University I have ever worked for, is unique and the strategy for one doesn't always fit the others. My engineers at NYU were very different from my orthodox Jewish donors at Yeshiva, were very different from my private liberal arts donors at Rollins College. So how does this blog help you? 

This is data from the Pulse of Donor Relations whitepaper that shows the need is great:

Describing strategic plans:
It's not a list of tasks
It has clearly defined goals (SMART) and is a series of actions to meet those goals
It MUST include metrics for success
The layout isn't as important as the content

 Questions to be answered:

·       What will a successful donor relations program consist of for your institution?

·       How will you define success: retention rates, dollars raised, donors engaged?
·       How will a successful donor relations program transform your advancement shop

 The other important point to be noted here is that you have to take the time to be strategic and think about your overall donor relations efforts within your shop. Seize (wait, I thought it was "i" before "e" except after "c"?) the day to build a strategic plan that works for you and your fundraising team, leadership and most importantly your donors. Remember the motto, If it doesn't benefit our donors, we don't do it...

Thanks. And now back to "Whatta Man" by Salt n Pepa... 

As Always I welcome your thoughts and input!


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