Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ideas That Work - Tips for a successful cultivation event

idea iconMay 8th I had the honor of attending a Recognition Reception in Medina, Ohio for the Cleveland Learning Center. About 90 people attended the event that celebrated the success of the LC, acknowledged their Builders Council Members and enrolled new members (4). Three inspirational young people spoke about their battle to overcome dyslexia. The event was tasteful, but modest. It was held in the Masonic Home. A number of the Home’s residents attended. This may have been their first opportunity to hear first hand how well the Learning Center works. A silent auction additionally raised $1,000.
Why it works
The event is very efficient and focuses attention on the need to receive significant ($10,000+) commitments. The inclusion of student testimonials is and inspiring to both donors and prospective donors. Also, the implied deadline of the event causes people to make commitments in time to be included in the event. In the 2 years Cleveland has done this event, they have enrolled 14 members of the Builders Council, including 3 who made up their minds during the event. That is why it is important to invite prospective donors along with current members.
I like the use of the Masonic Home as a way to expand the audience. Pittsburgh held a successful event at a Country Club in 2008 and also had success, albeit at higher expense.
Tips for a successful cultivation event:
  • Make sure the event is tasteful
  • Invite donors and prospective donors
  • Keep the program light, but include testimonials, recognition of current donors and a mild invitation to prospective donors to give
  • Use the event as a reason to have donor prospects commit
  • Follow up with the prospective donors, reinforcing the successes and need


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