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How to Grow Donor Relationships


How to Grow Donor Relationships
By Janet Colson

Fundraising in tough economic times requires organisations to reinvent themselves and to be creative. Above all it's an on-going process that is all about the nurturing and maintenance of relationships face to face. Janet Colson has worked for the past ten years as a strategic consultant with a portfolio of clients in the arts and non-profit sector. In the latest dance resource, produced by DANZ, Janet provides insights into the ways in which organisations can interpret their own vision to achieve challenging goals and the importance of growing donor relationships to realise these goals.

You’ve heard about raising money from individuals but where do you start? How many times have you wanted to plan a project well in advance but have no idea how to raise the funds you need to make it happen? Maybe you feel you’re always on a back foot with your trustees. They have ‘contacts’ - if only you knew what to do with them!

Every dance organisation faces these questions whether they’re a start up group or a publicly funded company. Whether you plan to start a patrons’ circle or devise a case for crowdfunding, the winning techniques are all taken from the same toolkit. With assistance from the Lion Foundation, DANZ has expanded its resources to include How to Grow Donor  Relationships. This new resource devised by Janet Colson who came to New Zealand three years ago from London where she specialised in dance as Development Director for Sadler’s Wells Theatre. She has over ten years experience as a strategic consultant and since she’s been in Wellington, has worked with the Royal New Zealand Ballet as Consultant Marketing and Development Director.

In New Zealand we’re familiar with corporate sponsorship and we’re good at it. We might not find a sponsor every time, but we know what makes them tick. They give money and we give them tangible benefits in return. But not many organisations can offer the profile the sponsors are looking for. And corporate agendas change.

In the long run it’s our audiences - our committed followers - who will help secure our futures. They already buy tickets to watch performances. Get to know them better and they have the capacity to help in ways that could make a very real difference to the bottom line. But first we need to find out what they think about us, what they enjoy and what they don’t like quite so much. As a result, we might need to change the way we think, but that’s not a bad thing if we bring our audiences with us.

It might seem like a daunting prospect to convince people to make a donation. It might be tempting to use the same formula we use with the sponsors and roll out a list of benefits as long as your arm. But if we do this with individuals we not only miss the point of philanthropy, we can end up spending everything we’ve raised and wasting a lot of time.

Like anything worthwhile, achieving success takes time, hard work and a bit of chutzpah. How to Grow Donor Relationships takes you through the steps you need to take to become more successful in fund-raising from individual donors. Using the techniques described in the resource you can make a plan to get started or use some of the ideas to make your own initiatives even more effective. 

Download the full resource How to Grow Donor Relationships 

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How to Grow Donor Relationships

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