Is it Time to Rethink Your Cultivation Processes?

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, PatronManager. 

Let’s face it, your organization can always be doing a better job of cultivating donors — right? As a former executive director, one of the most difficult parts of my job was to manage the relationships between patrons and my organization. Before CRM solutions we had donor cultivation software, but it only showed you one-third of your relationship, ticketing and marketing were left out. I had spreadsheets (“Thank God for Spreadsheets!”) that helped me try and keep all of this information straight. Still, it wasn’t enough, and inevitably relationships slipped through the cracks and opportunities were lost.

Fortunately, CRM solutions have saved us from ourselves when it comes to effective donor cultivation and management. We can now capture all of the data and relationship points needed to really know our patrons. Still, we need good processes to effectively manage patron relationships. For years the process of patron cultivation consisted of a series of Moves or Steps that an organization took to advance a patron from prospect to donor; a process known in industry lingo as Moves Management.

A traditional Moves Management approach advances the patron along a series of stages:

At each stage in the process, there is a transfer of information from the patron to the organization and also from the organization to the patron. Capturing the exchanges and proactively moving the patron forward is the tricky part. Move too early to solicitation and the patron may be scared off. Wait too long, and the patron’s giving priorities might shift. Fortunately, CRM solutions invite and encourage organizational collaboration with patrons to carefully map the patron cultivation.

Because of technology, the traditional model of Moves Management has evolved into a model that places the patron at the center of the organization.

This model is true Patron Engagement. All parts of the organization are now collaborating with the patron, learning and communicating with them while simultaneously collaborating cross-departmentally. Given this evolution what can organizations do to maximize its effectiveness?

Define Success Metrics — Go beyond the dollars in the budget and define what metrics your organization is going to use to define a fully engaged patron. Think qualitative as well as quantitative. Since the patron is at the center of your organization, you must consider the entire patron experience.

Understand the Stages — As patron cultivation has moved from being exclusively part of the development department, all departments need to understand their role in each stage of the cultivation process. Knowing what is happening at each stage is critical to keeping everyone focused.

Clearly Define Responsibilities — Tasks need to be clearly defined in each stage including who is responsible for seeing them to completion.

Commit to Documenting the Process — Every interaction with a patron regardless of department needs to be documented. These interactions assist the organization in understanding the patron journey.

By placing the patron at the center of your organization and developing clear processes to engage them fully, your organization will benefit. Engaged patrons become subscribers, donors, and brand ambassadors resulting not only in financial success, but also in the communication of your mission through patron networks to your community. The result creates even more relationships and future success.

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