Maintaining the relationship
Level of Relationship
You may decide to bring on board different levels of patron, who can and are able to play different roles for your organisation. They may also have different titles to distinguish what they may be expected to do, or that are more appropriate given their standing or level of support. These levels might be:
• Volunteers/donors: At the highest level, your patron might be a volunteer to your organisation. These are people who are likely to be physically involved and actually have a regular and more intense role to play. For example, they may form part of an appeal committee, and event committee, they may become actively involved in recruiting other supporters (for example, by attending meetings or regularly hosting events), or they may play an advisory role.
• Ambassadors/advocates: Most patrons are people who are vocal about your cause or the work that you do and act as representatives of your organisation. They might attend 1-3 events a year as well as regularly provide quotes, photos etc for letters and other literature.
• Door openers: As the name suggests, these might include people who are not necessarily celebrities, but are well-connected and influential, willing to engage people they know in your organisation, or use their influence in other ways to bring others on board eg get the organisation access to a particular venue, company or set of people eg business networks.
• Name only: As mentioned, some people that you might like to bring on board might be very famous or influential and, although in most cases you are looking for people who will get actively involved, even on a limited basis, you might also consider bringing on board those whose name alone would raise the profile and credibility of your organisation eg A-list celebrities. In this case, you might only include their name on literature. At a later date, if you keep them up to date with your work as a patron, they might agree to do more for you eg provide quotes for fundraising materials, link you to their connections, or sign letters etc.
Of course, your patrons might be a combination of the above, depending upon the level of relationship. Using a proper cultivation technique, you may be able to move some up the scale to become more involved in your organisation. Some may also be financial donors and might form part of your major donor programme. In many ways, these can be the best patrons to have on board as they can talk effectively about their financial support of, and commitment to, the charity.
Maintaining the Relationship
Once you have recruited your patron, it is important to maintain the relationship and help it to grow, so that they continue to be involved in your organisation and willing to be supportive where they can.
Ways that you can do this include:
• A written thank you for agreeing to become a patron, so that you have a written reference to their agreement, particularly if they agreed verbally. This helps to ensure that there has not been any misunderstanding and outlines what they have agreed to do. This should be done within 48 hours and by the person who is most appropriate ie the person who made the Ask. You can continue to thank the person for their involvement over time, by inviting them to events and saying thank you in your various communications with them.
• Building on future involvement: Once the individual has agreed to become patron, they may want to be more involved in your work. Ways in which you can do this may include:
• Asking for their advice on aspects of your work that they have shown a particular interest (although be aware that you may not want to be handing over control); perhaps sharing some information with them that is not yet publicly available (although you must use your discretion in terms of divulging sensitive information).
• Asking them to become involved in your fundraising efforts, perhaps by inviting them to become a member of your Cultivation Team or committee, hosting an event, or asking them to introduce you to their contacts. However, this must only be done in the context of what they have agreed to do and the level of relationship. You do not want the patron to feel that they are being overloaded or taken advantage of, given that they are often very busy people.
• Keeping them informed of progress, both with regard to the organisation and any projects that they may have supported in particular.
Keep adapting, and LISTENING!!: You should always be aware of your patron’s needs and situation, through both research and by listening to your donor and what they want. This ensures that your communications remain appropriate, help you to develop your relationship, perhaps grow their level of support and keep them on board for the long term.
Essentially though, with patrons, it is a case of “use them or lose them”. Patrons, if committed, like to be kept involved and to keep working for the organisation, as long as this involvement is not onerous. Otherwise, their interest may stray to other organisations who are more active in finding interesting ways to engage their support and use their talents effectively!