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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

The Difference Between a ‘Natural Partner’ and a ‘Relationship Manager’


Here’s a topic that comes up often with some of our coaching clients – Especially when there is lack of role clarity around maximizing relationships!

A NATURAL PARTNER (N.P.) is a person (either inside or outside of your organization) who has a strong relationship with your organization and an existing relationship with the Qualified Prospect(Q.P.) – Or a reason to believe one can be established quickly!

Externally, Natural Partners can be on your Board, they can have a business relationship with the prospect, they can be members of the same club or organization or they can be fellow community leaders, etc.

Internally, the Natural Partner can be anyone from the President/Executive Director to top senior leadership, to a staff/programming person who has a great relationship with the prospect.

It’s important that you determine the difference between a RELATIONSHIP MANAGER (R.M.) and a NATURAL PARTNER.

The RELATIONSHIP MANAGER does not necessarily have to have an existing relationship with the prospect. Their job is to do exactly what it says – MANAGE THE RELATIONSHIP. The Relationship Manager is always a member of the ‘Green Team’ – I.e., directly responsible for maximizing relationships on behalf of the organization/impact. It is perfectly fine for multiple people within the organization to have a relationship with a Q.P. – as long as the Relationship Manager has been defined.

The NATURAL PARTNER can have an existing relationship, or the ability to create one immediately, but most importantly, they play and instrumental role in Team Selling. They can:

  1. Help get the visit! Opening doors is one of the most productive things N.P. can do!
  2. Predispose the Prospect to a great visit! A N.P. can send a great note ahead of the visit – “I know you’re meeting with Sharon on Friday – I’m so excited for the two of you to meet, for you to hear about the vision and getting more involved in our impact! I’ll check in with you after”
  3. Follow Up! A call from the Natural Partner (after a check in with the R.M.) can be hugely beneficial. “How did it go? What did you think? What can I do to help?”

 

Maximizing Relationships Requires a Funding Rationale


The absence of strong Funding Rationales (a.k.a. your reason for needing funds) likely means your organization is not maximizing relationships.

At a major-gifts level* there needs to be some specificity in terms of funding a specific program, outcome, or priority initiative. (See 10 Types of Funding Rationales).

If you don’t have a specific Funding Rationale then one of two things usually happens:

  1. The commitment is not maximized.

    People give to support a mission or a cause, and they invest more to support specific impact (or outcome).  Our experience has been that a portfolio gives 3x more when you’re able to clearly define a strong funding rationale!!!  

    This is the difference between asking,”Will you invest $10K in our vision?”  And, “Will you invest $10K to help with this priority and these outcomes that will help us deliver on the vision?”
  2. Funders (over) restrict the funding.

    When we see this, it’s an indication that the funder is creating a rationale because yours is not clear enough!

    Note: While restricted funding is not bad in and of itself, gifts committed with restrictions crafted by the funder hinder an organization’s efficiency or focus. Said another way, if you don’t define your priorities/rationales then someone will do it for you.

*For most organizations this is $10K+ and could come from an individual, corporation, or foundation.