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Early Cultivation Resources for YMCAs

Face-to-face visit: focus on asking questions, probing for motivations, and laying the groundwork. Leave behind information and make sure that you set a date to revisit.

Tour the current facility: nothing speaks louder than touching, smelling, and seeing the current facility, especially when kids and families are around. The energy and the sounds of a tour, combined with discussion about why the YMCA is planning to expand, are powerful cultivation activities.

Small group visit and lunch: bringing together a small, intimate group of prospects for lunchtime discussion about the project can be an easy and effective way to introduce the project to those who might not be as close to the YMCA as we'd like. Start by meeting at the YMCA for a quick snapshot tour and then either sit down to a catered lunch or go off site to talk about the motivations behind the project. Use board members as cultivation partners and ensure that each guest has a packet of introductory information.

Multi-media introductory visit: for those potential investors who are low on the YMCA relationship scale and who are too busy to break away from their daytime business, such as doctors, taking the show on the road is a viable option. The use of walk-through video tours presented on the laptop, or fly-through schematic presentations on DVD are good ways to visually introduce the busy professional to the project and what is planned to solve the current challenges and meet the future opportunities.

Hosted on-site, after-hour reception: for parents, members, and other young professionals in the community, a brief after-business reception typically fits nicely into busy schedules. Light dinner and beverages served at a on-site information reception works to introduce busy, younger professionals to the project. Focus on pithy, direct, and specific messages that keep people's attention. Your goal at these events is to introduce the project and create a relationship that will be the basis for more comfortable follow-through. Make sure that steering committee members are there to start the relationship and handle the follow-through. Telephone calls the day after should be placed by the right steering committee member in order to thank the person for attending.

"If all else fails" technique: when attempting to introduce the project to someone who might not have a strong current YMCA relationship, many steering committee members send written introductory correspondence and place quick calls to potential prospects. This is our last resort technique and should be used only when other introductory cultivation efforts do not work. The key to success when using mailed information is to always follow through with personal conversation either over the telephone or in person. The answer to the age-old reply, "Can't you just send me some information in the mail?" should be: "This project is much too vital to our community's well-being to be handled through correspondence. We're making such a huge impact on our youth and families that we strongly believe that you need to see what we are doing firsthand. I have plenty of time and patience, and would like to see if we can secure a visit to our YMCA."

"Give us your insight, please": another powerful way to gain prospects' buy-in is to schedule an appointment with them and provide them with one or two opportunities to weigh in. Either allow them to review your prospect rating cards (if you are comfortable with this) or hand them a copy of your case statement (explicitly marked DRAFT) and request that they provide their input and guidance. Reserve this for those critically important prospects who you wish to bring closer to the project and make an "insider".


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Annual and Capital Campaigns Together

Annual Giving: Challenges and Opportunities

Board Handbook Outline - A Key Resource!

Chasing Away Those Mid - Campaign Blues

Early Cultivated Resources

Finding and Managing Natural Partners

Getting the Visit - A volunteer tip sheet

i team Irreducibles

Overcoming Your Fear of Asking

Qualifying Prospects

Securing the Visit

Solicitation Resources; You Are Not Alone

The Last Investor

The Rule of 3s

Voice of the Stakeholder

About the author...
Author, thinker, and consultant Mario Capozzoli writes for a living. Over the years, his words have been "columnized" in op-ed pieces, ranging from his alma mater's student newspaper to the Glendale News Press, a 102 year old southern California daily with a readership of 72,000. Sister paper to the Burbank Leader and the Huntington Beach Independent, Mario's weekly column ran in the News Press for two years.

More recently, Mario's writings have revolved around professional monographs, knowledge management perspectives, and leadership pieces focusing on the not-for-profit world. His specialty is writing succinct, one-page documents that illustrate techniques, practices, and beneficial resources.

On a personal level, his narratives have been published in local and statewide journals. Mario's love of poetry shows his softer side of the written word.

You will find Mario in the middle of grammar, syntax, and word use arguments and debates. He prefers the Chicago Manual of Style as a usage guide! His mentor is Barbara Wallraff, of the Atlantic Monthly's backpage.