Relationship Intelligence in Action: A great idea for non-profit fund raising

by Jim Cathcart

An organization I’ve come to admire is the New West Symphony here in Thousand Oaks, California.
They recently sent out a promotional announcement that shows a high level of “Relationship Intelligence ™”.
Here is the link to their announcement called “The Pleasure of Your Company.”
The concept is quite simple and elegant: create a series of casual events that appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests. Make the events affordable and orchestrate them (pardon the pun) so that all will contribute to the building of support for and involvement in your cause.
Here is some of the wisdom in this kind of thinking, in my humble opinion;
1. To do all of what you are capable of doing you will need the support of many people over an extended period of time.
2. Your dream goal is to attain the full support of all the people indefinitely.
3. Step one is to let people know you exist.
4. Step two is to make them aware of what you do.
5. Step three is to show them how well you can do it. Show them the value of it.
6. Step four is to give them a personal “sample” of the value. Get them to touch or taste the product.
7. Step five is to get them to “buy” something, to get involved on any level including volunteering.
8. Step six is to extend their involvement to full participation (related to their own capacity.)
9. Step seven is to get them involved in leadership; chairing a committee, serving on a board, holding a position, heading a fund raising or spokesperson effort, etc.
10. Step eight is to get them to take ownership in the success of the organization. Get them to feel that this is THEIR own personal cause, not just yours.

An example of this would be when the Boys & Girls Clubs publicizes their newest club and holds a grand opening or ribbon cutting event. Articles are generated, announcements are sent out, ads are bought, public service announcements are aired, email broadcasts are sent, and specific influential individuals are invited to attend. This addresses steps one, two, four and five above.
At the event itself they showcase what they do and the value that the kids get from it. This includes having kids there to talk with folks and demonstrate the club’s services. That addresses numbers three and four (showing them how well you can do it and giving them a sample.)
By having many different activities at the grand opening there is opportunity for a multitude of one time volunteers and helpers. Each of these people will in turn feel more committed to the club and the cause. This leads to their further involvement.

You can see how the concept works, from minimal contact through potential full support.
Now back to the New West Symphony’s cool idea.
They are holding twenty six events! Twenty six!
Each priced between $40 and $225 per person.
Covering everything from gourmet dining events to classes on personal organization.
Musical and non-musical events, educational and indulgent events, fun and laughter, plus history and culture. Something for everyone.
Each event is hosted by a different supporter of the New West Symphony (so nobody feels overburdened nor left out.)
The potential number of people who will get involved on all the various levels is very large.

Now contrast that to the typical approach of just holding a couple of big events per year plus a raffle.
By the way, the Symphony also holds big events such as their famous “Symphony of Wine” gala.

Relationship Intelligence ™ is being intelligent about relationships.
The New West Symphony is clearly being intelligent about theirs.
Congratulations to the Symphony and, as for the rest of us, let’s learn from their example.

For my personal assistance with your own RI initiatives please contact me at jim@cathcart.com.
Please let me know of other organizations (both for profit and non-profit) that you’ve seen exhibiting a high level of R.I.

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2 Comments

Filed under High-Value Relationships, Leadership, Relationship Assets, Relationship Intelligence Training, relationship selling

2 responses to “Relationship Intelligence in Action: A great idea for non-profit fund raising

  1. len linton

    Hi Jim….I met you a while back. I am Pres of NWS and we appreciate your insight and intellectual support. Keep encouraging the League that this is an important project! We all think it is very leading edge.

    You might be interested in some other things we have learned about relationships between audience and donors, on the challenge of converting single ticket buyers into subscribers and our community engagement initiatives (real and planned).

    Len Linton

  2. Alda Donohue

    I taught kindergarten in the Conejo Valley for 30 years and retired 7 years ago. Because I love classical music, I decided to volunteer to help raise funds for the New West Symphony. Over the years, various “big” fundraisers were held, and it seemed to me that there was always ONE person that bore the majority of the work. When I volunteered to be the chair of Pleasure of Your Company, my main objective was to get lots of people involved and spread the work around. I also wanted something with a range of prices. You can’t imagine how pleased I was to read your blog and learn that someone noticed and appreciated my efforts! I’m not sure how you found out about Pleasure … would appreciate knowing.

    Good news: 7 events are already sold out. There are a few events that aren’t selling well and will need publicity.

    Each and every event sounds to me like a great way to enjoy a few hours!

    Thanks for the encouragement. Alda Donohue

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