Most people do not like being asked to give money. Donors do not often look forward to the solicitation or asking experience. Many organizations don’t talk to their donors at all or the only time they talk with them is when they ask for a contribution. This kind of action is what makes people dislike fundraisers.
Develop a plan to talk with your donors throughout the year outside of asking for money. This is particularly important if you have major gifts donors who like to give at a specific time each year. Schedule a number of touch points throughout the year where you are updating your donors about the work of your organization. Take time to thank them for their relationship with you. Send them a note from one of your clients. Then when it comes time to talk with them about a gift they will be ready to have that conversation with you. With a good stewardship program by the time you ask for a gift a donor will be so ready to give that it will not be a challenge at all.
Everybody wants to know that their contribution is of value and that it is making a difference. When you do major gifts fundraising you have an opportunity to work 1-on-1 with people about their philanthropic priorities. Make sure to take the time to allow a relationship to grow. Some donors will want more of a relationship than others. You will be way more successful growing your major gifts program if you have regular soft touches with your donors than if you ask only once a year. Here are a few ideas:
- Send a card on your donor’s birthday and have everyone in the development and executive office sign it.
- Make a thank you phone call within a couple of days of receiving their gift.
- Send an update on what your organization has done the year before. This update can be specific to a programmatic or regional area of interest and should include some insider information from a program manager or director.
- Invite them to sit at your table at an annual event.
- Offer them a tour your organization. This is a great way to help someone connect in a deeper way with the work that you are doing.
- Arrange a meeting with the donor, one of your program staff members, and yourself to provide an in-person update.
- Send them a handwritten note with a few words about a special interest they have.
- Buy them a cup of coffee and tell them a story of something that happened because of their support.
Want more ideas? Read Tim Smith’s book Donors Are People Too.
What kinds of programs have you created to build relationships with your donors? Do you hold events?