I grew up on a farm in southeastern Iowa (west of quad-cities for those of you familiar with the state). My family was a part of 7 family farms that dotted the area. They are all gone now, gobbled up by corporate farming groups.

I fondly remember my family, uncles and aunts, reading the Farmer’s Almanac, trying to figure out when we could get out in the fields to cultivate the land in preparation for planting. Guess what we planted…corn, of course! Cultivating the land was an incredibly important step in preparation for a good crop.

It is no different when cultivating prospects for growing lasting relationships with donors in our congregations and nonprofits. Cultivation is the process of growing relationships, which is what generosity (fundraising) is all about!

Cultivating relationships is not a single meeting or just talking about how great your nonprofit or congregation is. Cultivation is a dialogue between prospective donors over time. It is an opportunity to introduce a prospect about the impact and benefits of your organization and connect with his or her passion for the mission.

Cultivation is meeting with a prospect to find out what motivates them, giving a tour, keeping in touch on a regular basis, writing a note, touching base online, or making a phone call to keep them informed. Invite prospects to volunteer with your church or nonprofit.  These things will till the ground and make way for committed donors.

Cultivation never ends. Once someone becomes a committed donor, they need to be stewarded, kept in-the-loop, and understand how they are making a difference. It will soon be time to be cultivating the land…however, you never have to wait for the right time to cultivate a prospect!

John V. Clark, President/Partner
The James Company
(815) 353-8997
Email: jclark@jamescompany.com