Fall is my favorite time of year. The colors of the season are beautiful, we start to snuggle up in sweaters, and we enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving. You can watch the squirrels outside your window scurrying around collecting their winter stores. This time of the year we start to gather together with family and friends; make new connections, and strengthen current ones. We network, just as the squirrel gathers its acorns, and we collect connections. Many people collect business cards (or if you are like me you collect contacts on your iPhone) like others would baseball cards. But how do utilize your compilation of contacts or capture new ones? Here are some ways you can round up and harvest your connections.
Organize Your Donors
In the nonprofit realm we can use all the help we can get. If your group is anything like those I’ve been involved with, you are a pretty lean group. In order to keep things running when it comes to coordinating special events, additional help is needed. The great thing is there are so many people ready to lend a hand, and they are already in your database–your donors! If you don’t already have a system that helps you keep track of those who have given, and for which campaigns, it is essential you start! Check out programs like DonorPerfect, which will help you log contributions your group has given to other programs, organize donations via campaign (this is great when you have annual events/fundraisers), as well as log volunteer activities. Having information like this organized and at your finger tips will help you filter who to reach out to for assistance for certain projects.
Give to Get
Now this may sound selfish (and it kind of is), but in the whole scheme of things it is mutually beneficial to all parties. So what exactly do I mean? Many times nonprofit groups work together on big events, or even donate funds to each others initiatives. By leveraging connections within other organizations, as well as working together and using your combined knowledge and skill set both parties can prosper. If there is an organization with whom you’ve worked before that shares in your mission, see how you can work together towards your shared goal. Maybe they need help today, but you can call upon then to help you down the road.
Business and Vendor Relations
For many fundraisers you will work with business partners/sponsors and vendors to execute events; or maybe you’ve interacted with these counterparts at functions not related to your organization. Keep note of how these individuals work and the product they produce. By creating relationships and continuing to cultivate them, you can call on these individuals and their services for future projects. Also, the better of a relationship you have with an outside organization the more likely they are to support you later on, be it with volunteers or monetarily.
We all need help at times and it’s important to know who you can call on and when. By keeping an organized catalog of individuals and/or organizations you can call upon for specific events and projects is key. Fostering good relationships with colleagues in the other nonprofits and related industries will help grow your network and provide you with access to more helping hands. It is also important to remember you need to reciprocate as well, show your worth, and others will be more willing to help in return.
Do you haveanother other suggestion on how to make good on your current connections, or how to better network? How does your group organize things? Let’s network! We’d love your feedback!