Build a Relationships: What Does It Mean?

 two people reading documents in folder about donorsBuild relationships. Nonprofit professionals say this phrase constantly. But what does that mean? For example, how can you build a relationship with someone you meet at a community meeting? Here’s a sequence of relationship builders. The specifics aren’t important here. What is important? The process they represent building a connection.  

1. Connect

Use via LinkedIn or Facebook. Write a personal note telling the person what you enjoyed about meeting them. Comment on their postings. 

2. Call.

Follow-up with a phone call. If you don’t catch the individual, leave a message saying you enjoyed meeting and that you look forward to connecting at a specific future date. Request a brief meeting. 

3. Learn.

In your twenty-minute meeting, seek to explore their world, ask about their three top challenges. Find out about their favorite free-time activities. As appropriate, respond with ideas about how your work might support their efforts. Establish the next step.

4. Follow-through

Do anything you promised at the meeting, such as promising to send them the name of a book, make an introduction, and the like. 

5.  Write

Send a meeting thank-you note within 48 hours. Highlight something you learned in the meeting and how it helped.

6. Keep it Going.

Within two weeks, provide something of value.  Search through your database of articles, newsletters, and testimonials for something related to your conversation. Repeat with additional value monthly.

7. And Going.

To keep your connection alive, at the end of the quarter, reach out. Check-in. When will you see each other again? Will you be attending another meeting soon? Have the items you’ve been sending been helpful? Would they like to meet to discuss mutual goals?     

Relationship building is like a dot-to-dot puzzle–you connect experiences from one dot to the next. Each time you connect, you discover new possibilities.

Would you like to know more about building relationships with donors? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Karen. She would love to help you to grow your relationships and your nonprofit revenue to create new possibilities.  

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis Consulting guides executive directors and CEOs to generate the resources, boards, and support they need to make remarkable progress on their missions. As the award-winning thought-leader, advisor, and founding principal of Karen Eber Davis Consulting, Karen helps nonprofit leaders get answers, generate revenue, and grow their mission. Davis is known for her innovation and practicality based on her work with or visits to over 1,000 nonprofit organizations and her experience leading board and team events. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.