Topic 3: Relationship management

Relationship management is all about nurturing and maintaining meaningful connections with donors and business contacts. It involves organising donor information, planning and tracking interactions, and fostering growing relationships over time.

Who does it?

Relationship management is a responsibility shared by various team members within an organisation, including fundraising professionals, development officers, and relationship managers. These individuals play a crucial role in cultivating and strengthening relationships with donors and business contacts.

How to organise It?

Effective organisation of relationship management involves segmenting donors based on factors such as level of giving, donor type, location, and preferred engagement route. Additionally, it entails encouraging involvement by setting primary and secondary engagement routes, defining channels and frequency of communication, and setting relationship targets to guide interactions.

How important is it?

Relationship management is of utmost importance in fundraising and donor engagement. Building and maintaining strong relationships with donors and business contacts not only fosters trust and loyalty but also increases the likelihood of continued support and collaboration. It is a cornerstone of successful fundraising efforts and organisational growth.

How frequently do we really do relationship management?

The frequency of relationship management activities varies depending on the nature of the relationship and the preferences of the donor or contact. Regular communication and engagement are key to maintaining strong relationships over time. It’s essential to stay in touch, provide updates on organisational activities, and show appreciation for their support.

Activity: Setting relationship targets

To put relationship management into practice, identify the top 3 donors your team needs to have efficient relationships with and go through the following steps:

  1. Segment each donor: Identify the key characteristics of each donor, such as their level of giving, donor type, and preferred engagement route.
  1. Encourage involvement: Promote an interest within your organisation to build and maintain relationships with donor institutions.
  1. Set target: Establish a clear relationship target for each donor, specifying whether the goal is to maintain contact, nurture as a connector or amplifier, or engage as a passive audience.
  1. Monitor, renew, or exit: Regularly monitor the progress of each relationship, renewing efforts where necessary or deciding to exit if the relationship is no longer fruitful.
  1. Set channel & frequency of communication: Define the channels and frequency of communication, whether it’s personal key account management, newsletters, annual reports, meetings, or events.

By implementing these steps, you can effectively manage and cultivate strong relationships with donors and business contacts, ultimately driving greater success in fundraising and organisational growth.

Video 2: From Donor scoping to decision making


In wrapping up the module on ‘Donor scoping and mapping’, we have explored essential strategies and practises crucial for effective fundraising and donor engagement.

Firstly, through “Getting to know your donors,” we emphasised the importance of comprehensive understanding and research into the priorities, preferences, and histories of potential donors. By gaining insights into donors’ backgrounds and interests, organisations can tailor their approaches and proposals to align with donor expectations effectively.

Secondly, “Donor mapping for alignment” shed light on the significance of strategic donor mapping. By categorising and prioritising donors based on their alignment with organisational goals and programmatic activities, organisations can streamline their fundraising efforts and maximise their impact.

Lastly, “Relationship management” underscored the pivotal role of nurturing and maintaining meaningful connections with donors and business contacts. By organising donor information, planning interactions, and setting clear relationship targets, organisations can cultivate trust, foster collaboration, and drive long-term growth.