The cultivation event was a starting point. It’s what you do after the event that counts when it comes to donor cultivation and building sustainable relationships with your attendees. Event follow-up is the critical element to starting to build your prospective donor base.
What is donor cultivation? Donor cultivation is any house party, reception, gathering, or other “non-ask” event.
If all you do is have house party after house party and fail to follow-up, you haven’t done donor cultivation. You have just had a house party.
Following are the recommended post-gathering follow-up steps:
- Send a prompt follow-up letter/card to every attendee, including guests of others and donors as well. (Be sure to collect addresses on every event attendee).
- Send a letter to event no-shows. Tell them you’re sorry they weren’t able to make it. Give them a quick event recap, including the materials that you handed out, and invite them to an upcoming event.
- Send thank you notes to your volunteers, board members, and special guests — anyone who helped make the event successful.
- If it was a well-attended event, work with the event host to identify those who attended who may have a greater interest in the organization. If there were a small number of folks in attendance, you may choose to call each event attendee.
- Call those identified. While it is preferable that the Executive Director or other staff who attended the event make the calls, the Director of Development or Director of Stewardship may do so as well. Email me for a sample “Follow-Up and Involve Script.”
- Stay in touch with the attendee. Send them a newsletter, invite them to other events, and thank them for their ideas and their volunteering.
- If they are a major donor prospect, then assign them to a matching solicitor and enter them into the Major Gifts Pipeline of the organization.
- After a few more contacts, make an ask (or, for current donors with assigned solicitors, make a more significant ask).
Be sure to take your donor cultivation event to the next step by doing the necessary follow-up work. From here, you can then begin to identify those who are most interested in your cause and then add them to your donor portfolio for further cultivation and relationship building. Why have a gathering just to have a gathering. Have a gathering with a plan in mind.