Do you know what a Crock-pot is? If you don’t, it’s an electric slow cooker, and I am a big fan. My mom got one for a present back in the 1970’s and used it to make pot roasts, country-style pork ribs with sauerkraut, chili, soups, stews, and corned beef and cabbage. Mom gave her Crock-pot to my sister when she moved out on her own, and then it got handed down to me when I first moved to Oregon in the 1980’s. After my daughter gave me a new one for Christmas a year ago, the Crock-pot went to school with her. That original cooking device is forty years old and it still works like a champ.
Using a Crock-pot is easy. You put your ingredients in, turn it on low, and let it cook for five or six hours or more. Even the toughest meat turns out tender and delicious after hours of simmering. After a few hours, the enticing aroma of what you are cooking fills the air and your growling stomach tells you something good is coming soon.
The key is to give the Crock-pot enough time to do its thing. It’s not like using a microwave. You have to be patient, or you will not get the results you are hoping to get. The meat will not be tender, the vegetables may be too crunchy, and the flavors may not have combined the way you would like. (On a side not, if you are making a noodle soup, don’t add the noodles until an hour before you serve or they will be too mushy.)
Successful nonprofit development is a lot like using a Crock-pot. For it to be rewarding you cannot rush the process. You have to prepare the potential donor with conversations about their interests and your mission. You have to engage them and get them more involved with your programs. After time, you will have a good idea when they are ready, and then you approach them for that gift they are able to give your organization. If you ask too soon, before they are truly ready, your results may not be what you hoped for.
Now, it says in the blog’s title that a Crock-pot can be a development tool, and I am sure you are wondering how. Let me tell you.
Step 1. Invite two or three donors to a lunch meeting for conversation and tour of your facilities. Ask them if there are any dietary restrictions due to allergies or religious beliefs. You don’t want to serve them something they can’t eat.
Step 2. Write down open ended questions you can ask those who will be attending to find out more about them and their interests that can be used to craft a future ask. Open ended questions will ensure that your guests will say more than yes or no, and will give you some great information about themselves that will help you understand their interests, needs, and capabilities to give.
Step 3. Buy the ingredients for the soup you will serve and the makings of simple sandwiches or a salad to serve your guests. Before you leave work, put the ingredients in the Crock-pot and turn it on low before you leave. When you come to work in the morning, it will be ready, so turn the device to the warm setting. Cook the soup in the room you are meeting, so the aroma will entice your guests and make them more comfortable. A small simple setting will be more comfortable and intimate, and it will be more conducive for conversation than a restaurant or big meeting room
Step 4. Welcome your guests, serve them their lunch, and converse. Ask them the questions you prepared. Take them for a tour of your facilities when they are done, and thank them for their time when they leave.
Step 5. Enter the information you gleaned from your conversations in your donor database. Clean the dishes, and compose personalized thank you notes to send your guests. If there are leftovers, share them with your staff.
Sharing a simple meal with donors or potential donors is a great way to cultivate the relationships you need for long lasting support for your organization, and it can be inexpensive and easy to do. Give it a try.