Hosting A Cultivation Event

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Continue to build on your donor relationships moving into 2019.

As year-end giving wraps up, now is a great time to start planning a spring donor cultivation event for your organization.  Not only does it allow you to say thank you for their year-end support, but it will also continue to build on your donor relationships moving into 2019.

If your organization has a physical facility that allows for tours, then schedule an evening for an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ tour. As a bonus, try to schedule a physician, teacher, volunteer, or service recipient to give a short presentation on their connection and appreciation for the donor’s support.

But if you cannot schedule an in-person tour of your site, not to fear, you can still host a successful cultivation event! I previously worked for a medical research organization and we would regularly host small research update events in the home of a board member or another supporter. We were unable to bring our donors to a laboratory to meet the scientists, but we could easily bring a scientist to meet with donors. This allowed us to bring a variety of unique presenters to Chicago for exclusive donor events, where major and mid-level donors could hear firsthand the progress being made and still feel connected to the organization.

One of our clients recently held a successful Q&A phone call for top donors since they are spread out around the country. This town-hall style conference call or webinar can be an easy and cost-effective way to connect key donors with your Executive Director. And once your team has the technology in place, this format can be easily replicated for different donor segments.

Lastly, don’t forget to create a follow-up plan for event participants. For personal gatherings, make sure you send guests home with a “leave-behind” piece outlining your mission and case for support. The next steps after the event are important, so do not forget to assign thank you calls to staff and key board members so they can answer any follow-up questions donors might have and possibly schedule personal visits. 

No matter what type of cultivation event you decide to hold for your supporters, they will leave feeling appreciated and better connected to your organization.

These events are great tools for both major and mid-level donors, depending on the upgrade strategy and pipeline development for your organization.If you’d like assistance in identifying donors in your database who might be ready for a larger gift and could benefit from these types of cultivation events, please contact me at

John Payne