An Underutilized Cultivation and Marketing Tool

focus.jpgDo you need a reason to reach out to your legacy society members? Would you like to move the cultivation process forward with your top planned giving prospects? Here’s a fairly simple way to accomplish both – focus groups. While it helps to have some knowledge or experience in running a focus group, it is not a requirement and should not prevent you from conducting one. It’s a smart way to get thoughts on your planned giving marketing, whether about a new direction or the effectiveness of your current marketing program.

Here are several important points to consider when organizing a focus group:

  • Determine the purpose and desired outcome, so that you can make those objectives clear to your guests right from the start. It’s pretty straightforward - you value their support and want their opinion on your planned giving communications material. What headlines, copy, and images speak to them? What do they find emotionally persuasive?
  • When selecting your audience, be sure to include both legacy society members and your top prospects. The synergy between both groups and the cross pollination of ideas are important to moving your program agenda, stewardship, and prospecting along.
  • The ideal focus group size is between 7-10 people. This allows you to have both one-on-one participation, as well as group interaction.
  • Have two or three staff members present, including yourself. Ideally someone from the communications department would be the facilitator while you, the gift officer, are there to oversee the session and direct as needed.
  • The focus group itself can run anywhere from 1-1.5 hours. Personally, I have found the best time of day for this is mid-morning, from 9:30-11:00. This simplifies things by not having to concern yourself with dietary needs and incremental cost of serving lunch. A continental breakfast is sufficient.
  • Create a script of topics you want to discuss (and we can help you with that).
  • Give them a goody/thank you bag when they leave. Contents could include some items relevant to your organization’s mission, artisan food, or a $10 gift card to a local coffee shop. It’s the gesture that counts as a way of acknowledging their time.
  • Ask for permission to follow up regarding the session. This allows you to reach out again to further your discussion.

If you would like help planning a focus group, contact me.  For a limited time, I will provide thirty minutes of free consulting to each of the first five people who contact me at or 617.497.4357.