If you’re like most nonprofits, you probably wish you had more major donors.
You can have them!
Today we’re going to look at a great tool for building those important relationships with top prospects over time.
And we all know that is what will result in the big gift.
You know how important it is to put a plan in place to build relationships, right?
It’s super-de-duper important if you want to secure major gifts.
And there’s a name for the strategic process of building meaningful relationships with potential major gift donors.
I’m talking about “Moves Management.”
What’s Moves Management?
It’s a major donor cultivation approach to plan, make and keep track of a targeted number of “moves” or “touches” per year to major gift prospects.
Each “move” is targeted to move your prospect along a relationship continuum – from awareness… to interest… to involvement… to investment — depending upon where they currently are in relationship to your nonprofit.
When sufficient “moves” have been made, the culmination is your request for a gift/increased gift.
One person, assigned as the Moves Manager, assures that all moves are coordinated and the solicitation occurs at the appropriate time.
The goal of all this work is getting your major donors to feel:
- I’m loyal to this charity.
- This is my favorite charity.
- I’m a committed donor.
Loyal, loving, committed donors. Sounds good, right?
Major donor cultivation is a team contact sport.
You really want to have several people connecting with your donor over the months (or years) leading up to the ask.
WHy? No one individual is right to be matched with every prospect.
(Bonus: This is a GREAT way to involve board members and other stakeholders.)
Moves management helps you lay out specific steps to bring your prospect closer and closer.
Because of course you don’t want donors’ only interaction with your organization to be a hands-off, transactional, institutional one.
That’s not the emotional connection that will lead to a successful ask.
People who personify and represent your nonprofit can and should be involved with donors. (Just be sure they are well briefed!)
And simply “connecting” with your donors isn’t enough, either.
Donors need to LOVE you to make a significant commitment to your organization.
But YOU’RE gonna have to woo folks to get them to that point.
Think about what’s actually going on when a donor says “Yes!” to a major gift solicitation.
They’re actually saying “I love you.”
They’re making an active commitment to you, your organization and your cause.
What gets them to the point where they’re ready to make this commitment?
Your job is to create a climate for donors to fall in love with your cause.
You’ve got to be pro-active to create this climate.
For example, you can get them there with a board member’s coffee invitation or a tour conducted by a program staffer, and then culminate your courtship with a face-to-face with the executive director.
In between the bigger ‘moves’ where donor prospects typically get to rub shoulders with perceived VIPs, there will be a number of thoughtfully planned ‘touches’ orchestrated by the development director or major gifts officer.
Everything is done according to a plan.
Your job is to make your donors fall in love with your cause.
So how do you do it?
First you develop a large list of possible ‘high-touch,’ ‘medium-touch’ and ‘low-touch’ cultivation ‘moves’ to incorporate into your major donor-investor prospect’s individualized plan.
You’ll have some standard moves you use again and again. Such as a tour, house party or lunch with the E.D.
And you’ll have standard touches as well. Such as an annual report mailing or event invitation.
A move or touch only “counts,” however, if it’s executed according to a donor-centered plan that’s personalized for each donor.
In other words, a mass mailing of holiday cards is not moves management. When you’re targeting major donor prospects, you’ll need to write a personal note on their card.
Once you have your list of cultivation strategies, you’ll want to draw from this list to develop your tailored plan for each top prospect in your major donor prospect portfolio.
With each move you make, ask yourself:
- How is this bringing me closer to asking for a gift?
- What did I learn that will help me secure a gift?
- Did I find out what motivates my prospect to be philanthropic?
- Did I find out what they love most about my organization?
- What does it make sense to do next?
Caution: Moves management is not a one-size-fits-all approach! It’s custom tailored — for major donors only—who are the top 10-20% who give you 80-90% of your philanthropy.
‘Moves’ are not something you do TO the prospect.
And they’re not something you do when the spirit moves you.
Moves management is a deliberate, focused set of actions that all build on each other to create a close relationship, a happy donor, and a lovely generous major gift to your nonprofit.
Why? Because you moved them emotionally, of course!
It’s like writing up a treasure map; then following it systematically.
Want to get more systematic with your donor cultivation?
I invite you to register for my Winning Major Gifts Fundraising Strategies e-Course for the small to medium-size shop. Over 8 weeks we’ll cover everything you need to know to build and sustain a dynamic program that raises more money than you ever dreamed possible.
If you’re serious about fundraising, you’ve got to get serious about investing in major gifts. This is true no matter your size. There’s no more cost-effective fundraising strategy. It’s a struggle to figure out how to do it on your own, and it wastes time. You need a systematic plan for identifying, screening, qualifying and beginning to build relationships with viable prospects before you’re ready to approach them for a gift. And that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this course!
Questions about this course? Simply email me and ask. firstname.lastname@example.org