A! Magazine for the Arts

Building Relationships with Donors

January 1, 2007

JOHNSON CITY - Building relationships with prospective donors begins with placing them first, according to an article published in the December 2006 issue of The Major Gifts Report and written by East Tennessee State University Vice President for University Advancement Dr. Richard A. Manahan.

Manahan, who is president of the ETSU Foundation as well as a professor of Accountancy and of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the university, says the philosophy espoused by the well-known Dale Carnegie regarding ways to make more friends is also quite applicable to organizations seeking to improve their donor prospects.

Manahan lists several ways to put a donor's specific interests in the forefront of any relationship an organization (such as ETSU) is trying to nurture, and gives examples ranging from private golf lessons with the head coach to personal invitations to see a play, attend a concert, or enjoy an exhibit. And, he highlights two unique-to-ETSU areas -- the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and the Scott M. Niswonger Digital Media Center ? by suggesting that a donor could be invited to perform "medical procedures" in the human simulation lab or to design their own three-dimensional computer-generated animation graphics.

In addition, Manahan notes that attending outside events (civic clubs, socials, tournaments) with which the donor is already involved, may then result in reciprocal support for an organization.

He maintains that demonstrating a genuine interest in other individuals is a key element in fostering any good donor relationship, and adds, "At the very least, you will gain a new friend."