It’s way past time to seize the opportunity for personal face-to-face solicitation. Make sure you’re read Part 1 of this column, otherwise the rest won’t make any sense. Now, here’s Part 2, the specific steps.


Specific steps to prototype and co-create

First, my outline is not rapid prototyping. I’m using prototyping and co-creation as a coordinated back-and-forth process to accomplish my intention of learning > change > understanding > ownership. (And participation by some board members and potentially other volunteers and even donors.)

There’s no need for rapidity; in fact, in this situation I’ve seen a rapid approach implode later. Typically, this process lasts several months. Indeed, the organization’s board meeting schedule might require process adjustments.

Furthermore, much of work (and life) is non-linear. That’s true for prototyping and co-creation, too. The steps outlined here intend to maximize process. The various tools in the preceding articles/research should reduce problems later. Naturally, flexibility allows for adding, reordering, redoing, and skipping steps, as necessary.

One final note: It’s essential to carefully distinguish between the various roles, as outlined in the grid. Messages that confuse participants produce problems immediately and later. (And sometimes, seemingly forever!)

One more comment before getting into the specific steps

You don’t have to use a consultant to do this work. Obviously, your professional development officer, if you have one, should be leading the steps below. Your development officer should be promoting this work…designing, leading, supporting, facilitating this work.

If you don’t have a development officer—common with smaller organizations—then your executive director serves as the chief development officer. She or he leads this process. And when I say “leads the process,” I mean promoting, designing, supporting, facilitating, etc. See the enabling functions on my website—and described in previous NPQ columns.

Okay…now the specific steps to prototype and co-create:

  1. Introduce the concept of personal face-to-face solicitation to development staff and the CEO, and to the fund development committee and board of directors.
    1. Talk about best practice. Share small bits of research, not lots.
    2. Tell stories of real solicitors, solicitations, and donors.
  2. Create the prototype. Describe the value and process in narrative. Diagram the process, if that’s useful. Include real-life success stories.
    1. Consultant drafts and shares with development staff and CEO to ensure comprehension.
    2. Make adjustments without compromising best practice.
  3. Facilitate a complaint and whine session with the full board. Participants share everything they dislike about fundraising—as a donor, as a board member or staff in an organization, etc. I respond and teach. In a significant percent of cases, their concerns are right, and behaving that way is bad fundraising. So the organization agrees not to conduct fundraising that way. In other cases, I explain, justify, try to reduce anxiety. Adjust the prototype to address expressed concerns.
  4. Test the prototype with the board’s fund development committee.
    1. Adjust as necessary, without compromising the body of knowledge and best practice by inexperienced individuals. Board members are not (and need not be) experts in fundraising. That’s why an organization hires a fundraiser. Even if there are expert fundraisers on the board, these individuals aren’t directing or controlling this process. That’s staff (and consultant) work.
    2. Create a companion document that explains/responds to adjustments that cannot be made.
  5. Test the prototype with selected board members who do not serve on the fund development committee.
    1. Adjust as necessary, without compromising the body of knowledge and best practice by inexperienced individuals.
    2. As necessary, modify the companion document that explains/responds to the adjustments that cannot be made without compromising the potential of personal face-to-face solicitation.
  6. Recruit several board members (from the fund development committee and from #5 above) who agree to conduct personal face-to-face solicitations. Ensure their commitment prior to the board meeting where the prototype is presented.
  7. Identify a preliminary list of current donors who are likely prospects for personal face-to-face solicitation.
    1. Explain criteria for selecting them as possible prospects. For example, the obvious information: Loyalty. Lifetime value. Recent gift sizes. Ideas re: income based on where they work, etc.
    2. For example, the not-so-obvious information: Board members who may have connections with the preliminary prospects. Other linkages.
  8. Present the prototype to the full board, along with the companion document that explains why certain adjustments were not made and responds to expressed concerns.
    1. Work in small groups at the meeting, with a member of the fund development committee in each group to facilitate.
    2. Introduce the preliminary list of current donors who are likely prospects.
  9. Review the notes from the small group work at the board meeting. Make adjustments to the prototype and/or the companion document that explains and responds to concerns that are not included in the prototype.
  10. Meet with the fund development committee to confirm the prototype. Share the confirmed prototype—and the accompanying explanatory/response document—to the board as an FYI.

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The learning launch

Handled well, the prototyping and co-creation process helps internal audiences learn along the way. By now, the internal audiences should be less uncomfortable and less afraid. They should recognize the value of personal face-to-face solicitation. And even if they have no intention of actually participating, they endorse the concept to some degree.

Through the process of prototyping and co-creation, the organization has recruited a team of personal face-to-face solicitors. The staff has completed a preliminary list of prospects with some basic data.

Now it’s time for the learning launch. And thi