Mar/Apr 2008

Using the Internet to Move the Potential Donor

by Bob Carter, Vice Chairman, Archimede Philanthropy Partners

"Moves management" is a process of bringing an individual to the point of making a gift. It is most applicable in major gift and planned giving scenarios, but may also apply to lead gifts in annual campaigns. An effective moves management strategy brings potential donors closer to the people to be served and therefore to the need and opportunity and allows nonprofits to create deep and lasting relationships between donors and the organization and the people it serves.

Developing an effective moves management strategy will vary depending on the size and mission of the organization, but there are general processes that are common to most nonprofits. The first step in developing an effective moves management strategy is to clearly grasp and define the relationship of the donor to the organization. Based on that initial relationship, an action is designed to move the donor into a deeper relationship with the organization by creating an individual strategic plan for each potential donor. The potential donor is brought close, not necessarily to the organization, but to the positive impact of the gift on the lives of others.

A "touch" vs. a "move"

There is an important and critical place for the touch in the overall development strategy, however it should not be confused with a move. A touch does not move the relationship with a prospect forward. A touch is passive. A touch provides information or allows passive engagement with the organization.

A move can take place during solicitation and stewardship in addition to during cultivation. A move may take place as the prospect is invited to learn more about a specific component of the effort that is of special interest to that individual donor. Through engagement with a focused and specific component of the institution's needs in preparation for the ask, a prospect is moved closer to the heart of the organization. And following receipt of a gift, stewardship is a prime opportunity to move the prospect. Through timely and personal thank-you correspondence, named gift opportunities, and personal stories of how the gift impacts people, the donor can be brought closer to the organization.

A move is active. It is a designed action that pierces the consciousness of the individual and thereby moves their relationship with the institution forward. A move deepens the relationship of the prospect with the organization. A move brings the prospect closer to the people who will be served.

As a 40-year veteran of major gift fundraising and consultant for nearly 30 of those years, I have promoted and counseled face-to-face personal solicitations as the top shelf tactic in a fundraising strategy. In major gifts campaigns, in particular, donors are carefully cultivated in preparation for a personal solicitation.

While the initial wisdom has been that a computer screen is a difficult means to develop a relationship, we now know that just the opposite appears to be true. Social networking — a large part of developing interpersonal relationships — is now done extensively on the Internet, and the potential to build relationships between donors, potential donors, and organizations via the Internet is enormous.

Using the Internet in your moves management strategy

Through each step of the process, the Internet can provide resources to make your moves management strategy more effective. In the first general stage, Identification, the Internet provides resources that can help you deepen your prospect pool and more accurately qualify your prospects. In the second general stage, Cultivation, the Internet provides mediums to engage and move your prospect closer to the heart of the organization. In the third general stage, Stewardship, the Internet provides new and exciting ways to bring donor and recipient closer together.

There are many ways that the Internet can offer attractive and interactive moves:

  • Email invites conversation and a give and take characteristic in a strong relationship.

  • Electronic newsletters share the good news of how donations make an impact in peoples' lives. Through images and stories, electronic newsletters create a picture of success and even opportunity in the prospect's eye.

  • Online videos and video testimonials that feature people who directly benefit from the gifts of donors.

  • Social networking tools to introduce your donor to others who share a common value and passion for the mission of your organization. Consider inviting the prospect to join the social networking site used by your organization.

  • Blogs provide an interactive element, generating conversation around topics of mutual interest. Inviting a potential donor to be a guest blogger on your organization's blog is a prime example of an effective move.

  • Podcasts provide relevant and inspiring information at the convenience of the donor. Inviting a potential donor to be a guest on your organization's weekly podcast is a prime example of an effective move.

  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed from your Web site to keep a prospect or donor informed regarding the work of the organization or events that affect the people it serves. Send updates on your Web site directly to individuals' phones and PDAs as text messages.

The Internet can help bring people together and build relationships between individuals, the organization, and the people it serves. There is no question that person-to-person giving will remain foundational in the giving formula. The scope of "person-to-person" however is expanding. What used to be defined as meetings between individuals is now being expanded to relationships built and maintained online. That is not to say that gatherings and meeting someone in person will ever be replaced. However, individuals have the expectation that relationships will be nurtured and fostered via electronic mediums.

The newest generation of philanthropists is growing up online, cell phones in hand, iPods in pockets. To remain relevant and effective, development professionals must make modifications to include the preferred and commonplace communication vehicles of the day. Great new innovations lay ahead that will provide new and exciting ways to augment your moves management strategy.

So try texting a message to a prospect from an exciting event they were unable to attend and describe an outcome or special thing happening and see what happens!

To learn more about Archimede Philanthropy Partners, visit www.archimedephilanthropy.com.

Using the Internet to Move the Potential Donor | Convio