Philanthropy Expert and Transformational Change Agent
NOVEMBER 17, 2018
THE "NEXT STEP" - MOVING THE RELATIONSHIP FORWARD
What is a Next Step?
Simply put, it is a future point of contact with a donor that you define and take lead on.
In this early stage, your Next Step is a simple one: To ensure that the conversation and the relationship continue, and for you to take ownership of when and how that will happen.
Even the most interested donor can get distracted or overwhelmed with other obligations, so letting them take lead on when and how to further the discussion has definite pitfalls: For example, a person may say something like, “Let me review the materials and get back to you,” or “Let me mull over what we’ve discussed, and I’ll touch base later,” or even. “Send me the information, and I’ll let you know.”
By agreeing to suggestions like these, you relinquish responsibility for growing the relationship, and are left just hoping the person gets back to you... And since this relationship isn’t a high priority to them - yet! - chances are you’ll get lost in the shuffle of their busy schedule.
Always having a “Next Step” in place is the key and catalyst to keeping any donor relationship moving forward. So, how do we set a Next Step that keeps the fundraising ball in our court?
As a fundraiser / development officer / leader of the organization, it is imperative that you develop responses that keep access to your prospects open, and keep the timeline under your control.
Often, I’ll say something such as, “Perfect. And if I don’t hear from you in a month, I’ll reach out and check in,” or “That’s great. And I’ll tag my calendar for the end of [insert a time frame – next week, next month, end of summer, end of winter, end of the school year, etc.] to follow up if I haven’t heard from you.”
Develop and memorize responses that keep the Next Step within your control, and bear in mind that nine times out of ten the person you’re talking to appreciates not being on the hook for remembering to call you back. By taking lead on the relationship, you are actually making it easier for the person to participate, and that will help engender positivity going forward.
Maintaining fundraising relationships is all about creating and owning your Next Steps, and learning to use them skillfully will be a huge asset to your success with everyone from prospects to long-term major donors!
Professional philanthropy means I've spent my entire career facing Big Asks, and I'm proud to say that Big Asks aren't only manageable - you can even learn to love them!
THE LADY WITH THE BIG ASK is here to teach you what it takes to ask for what you want and get it - from donors, board members, bosses, coworkers, employees, and in your life.