8 parts to strategic cultivation

Securing major gifts can involve a tricky balancing act of demonstrating respect for the major gifts prospect at the same time as feeling pressure to close the deal.

Much can depend on personalities, making it difficult to find one-size-fits-all approaches, but there are certain strategies that have worked well.

During the 2014 Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) international conference, Jan Wood of the Anne Arundel Medical Center and Doug Hutchings of Bentz Whaley Flessner outlined the approach the medical center has taken for landing those big-time donations. They emphasized the following:

  • No matter how much the medical center might want to set the pace, timing is set by the donor, not the giving officer;
  • Listening and watching are always more important than talking. Verbal and visual clues will point to opportunities;
  • Keep abreast of what is happening in the organization to spot opportunities when they present themselves;
  • Creative, strategic thinking is what turns opportunities into major gifts;
  • Stay focused on prospects with the great resources, regardless of the difficulty of engaging;
  • Apply appropriate amounts of time based on size of potential;
  • Support assumptions with methodical research and prospect screening; and,
  • Remember the Pareto Principle: 95 percent of all dollars given will come from five percent of the organization’s donors.