This photo shows one of the many for sale signs on large tracts of land in southeast Michigan. This property is in South Lyon. Imagine if instead the sign read, “Coming soon: This property protected by _______ Land Conservancy”. It can happen!
Are you looking for land trust fundraising help? Is your land trust or land conservancy struggling to get more donors? Are you producing weak land protection results? I’m passionate about land conservation. By maximizing your land trust fundraising, I want to help your land conservancy protect more land faster.
Listen up! Below are 5 land trust fundraising tips and sure-fire secrets to turbocharge your organization.
1. Hire professional salespeople. That’s right. I said the dirty word, “sales”. You are in business, the land protection business. Your competition is having a field day (home builders, realtors, developers). But you can beat them to some of the land you want to protect with the right people on your staff who will bring you the type of money, and relationships with landowners, you need.
The quickest way to create relationships that lead to sales (donations) is to hire someone who is an expert at it. I’m not recommending the fast-talking, untrained “used car salesman” type, but rather the educated, trained, successful professional salesperson.
A professional salesperson provides great customer service and a consultative sales style that leads to customers, or donors, for life. Former medical sales, high end advertising, district managers, and other types of professional sales representatives are the types of people I recommend. Perhaps a retired sales representative passionate about your cause.
You need people who don’t accept the status quo. You need people who are thinking, instead of nature photo contests and nature hikes, how to land that next large sponsor. That’s how professional sales (and marketing/PR people) think.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
George Bernard Shaw
2. Fill your board with professional salespeople and business people who enjoy asking for money. Most of your staff, board (and maybe you) probably hate asking for money. This is a sad fact for many nonprofits and it is costing them donations, and in the case of land trusts, land.
Professional salespeople are not afraid of rejection. Let the people who love to ask for money, salespeople and businesspeople (PR, marketing, etc.), do the asking and fill your board with them.
3. Train your staff, volunteers, and board to deliver amazing customer service and sales. You can’t afford to lose a single prospect or donor due to a phone that was not answered properly and professionally, a poor interaction at an event, a staff member or volunteer who was afraid to ask for the donation, or any other scenario. If you don’t have the basics right, the rest of it is not going to matter.
You can’t afford to have anyone on your staff (including volunteers) or board who is afraid to ask for money. You have to provide them with the training tools to give them the confidence to feel good about asking.
4. Think big! Quit thinking that there is a scarcity of money or donors. That’s just not true. If you don’t believe me, look at the long lines that form anytime Apple comes up with a new gadget selling for hundreds of dollars.
The truth is, there are millions of people with a lot of money just waiting to invest it in the great work you do. You just have to approach them with the right land trust fundraising appeal and ask.
5. Think like a for profit. Quit thinking like a nonprofit. You have to be better than your competition and out market them. You have to think in terms of acres protected per day or month, and dollars raised per day or month. Act like a business, not a struggling nonprofit. Optimize your land trust fundraising with a “You must always be selling!” mindset.
There’s a rule in war that I’ve heard the US Marines use. You must know your enemy. Your “enemy” are other businesses vying for the land you want, and they are killing you. You are not even on the radar screen. You are taking their table scraps.
There is no reason you can’t compete. Many times your own mindset, skill set, or improper staffing is holding you back and hurting your business, preventing you from achieving your goals. Use the land trust fundraising tips I provided above so you have the funds to compete effectively.
A sad fact: Most of the public does not even know you exist. But, here’s the good news: When you get the right “make it happen” type of people on your side and on your staff, you can change the world. You can get the word out to the right people-the donors and landowners you want to reach. You can go from 100 acres protected per year to 2,000 acres protected per year. You really can!
Use the advice above TODAY to immediately make necessary improvements to your land trust or land conservancy. Then experience how great it feels to be on the winning side of land deals!
What land trust fundraising tips can you offer to help land trusts protect more land?
Kirt Manecke is the former executive director and director of development for a northern Michigan land conservancy. In three years he increased membership 10x and increased land protection 400% using many of the same tips found in his book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service. Kirt is the author of the award-winning books Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service, and Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World. He is passionate about land trust fundraising to help land trusts protect more land faster.