Building effective relationships matters

On either side of the Atlantic, the wisdom you get to build relationships with your donors is interesting to learn. This came  true when  Professor Ian Bruce, President, Center for Charity Effectiveness at London’s Cass Business School talked about the theory and practice of building effective relationships.

According to Prof. Bruce, successful relationship building has four components: establishing relationships, strengthening relationships, customer appreciation and relationship strategies. In American terms,  this  means relationship building, stewardship and ongoing donor communications.

You scan your environment to seek out the most influential people interested in your cause. Engage them well, pay close attention to their needs and consider them the most important people in your network. Prof. Bruce advises that you must be ready to talk about the negative things that are  happening at your organization and how you are trying to fix them. What are the pillars that need to be strengthened?

Often, most of us forget the common sense initiatives we need to take to build relationships. This includes reliability (deliver what you promised), responsiveness (give prompt service always), assurance (convey trust and confidence), empathy (a caring attitude), and  always make sure  that you provide the best tangible experience of your assets.

Sometimes, giving up top spots allotted to your  CEO or leadership to high value customers will help strengthen relationships. According to Prof. Bruce, this will help you build financial and social bonding with your high value customer.

His highly acclaimed book “Charity Marketing: Delivering Income, Campaigns and Services,” elaborates on the theory and practice of building effective nonprofit marketing strategies.

Are you in Development or in Sales?

Are you in development or in sales? Fundraisers ask this perennial question as they raise money for non-profit organizations. Recently, a senior corporate business development leader highlighted major similarities between development and sales:

  1. In development and in sales, we have to bring solutions to our clients and donors. Those with good listening skills bring the sale to a close.
  2. Sales has targeted sales plans that track revenue from clients; development plans yield gifts from donors.
  3. Validated sales bring new  revenue to the sales team while new pledges bring in new income to a non-profit agency.
  4. We strive to convert new sales into ongoing sales while in development we move first time donors into annual giving.
  5. Metrics are key  in both areas. In sales we quantify substantial meetings that move a sales forward, in development we constantly monitor our pipeline. How many proposals do we have that can yield results in the short and long-term?
  6. In sales, marketing determines opportunities while in development, research provides key donor data.
  7. In sales, we track time spend with customers while in development we track visits.
  8. Sales teams track velocity- how many days did it take to close the sale? Development teams track the number of interactions that occur before we make an ask.
  9. In sales, we check signed bids while in development we look at signed gift agreements.

Since there are so many similarities, why is development different from sales? Development professionals believe that their task often involves selling an emotion that sometimes will not fall into a progressive, well-documented, predictive closing system. Do you think this is true?