Meeting over coffee

Improve Major Donor Fundraising to Grab a Larger Piece of Philanthropy Pie

meringue pieIf I had to tell you what you need to do to succeed with major gift fundraising in one sentence it would be this:

Identify major donor prospects… qualify them so you know they want to build a deeper relationship with you… cultivate them… visit with them… listen to them… reflect back to them what you heard… ask them for something specific that resonates with their passions… steward their gift and communicate in an ongoing way to make them feel like the hero they are!

Whew – that was a mouthful!

A shorter way to say this is: Meet with donors. Listen to donors. Ask donors. Thank donors.

See — it’s simple!

It’s definitely not rocket science. It’s just good old hard work. Satisfying and rewarding work. And it’s a type of work anyone can learn to do. [If you want to learn, please sign up for the upcoming Certification Course for Major Gift Fundraisers that begins April 5th. It may be the most important investment you make all year. Just one major gift will more than cover the cost].

Over my 40 years in fundraising, 30 of them working in the trenches as a director of development for organizations with budgets ranging from $1 – $40 million, I have asked for a lot of major gifts.  I know what works, and what doesn’t work. Today I want to give you:

(1) some of my best words of wisdom, and also

(2) answers to some of the questions folks frequently ask me .

I hope these tips will help you tweak your mindset and invigorate your systems so you can be more successful fundraising in the coming year!

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Clouds and sky

Legacy Gifts Don’t Usually Fall From the Sky

If you’ve been around ten years or more, and have demonstrated you have staying power, it’s time to start thinking about promoting legacy giving. And not just a little. A lot.

Even during a pandemic. Why?

Because once you have a steady stream of legacy gifts maturing, you’ve secured your nonprofit’s future — in good times and bad. Not 100% of course. You’ll still need to continue with annual fundraising. But you’ll be confident in the knowledge that every year or so unanticipated income will flow into your nonprofit’s coffers, like a windfall from heaven. In fact, after a while you’ll even be able to conservatively budget for a certain amount of bequest income (based on your averages) each year.

Legacy gifts can be quite transformative for the financial trajectory of your nonprofit. Think about this for a minute. While not every bequest will be six or seven figures, it’s rare to see a two or three figure bequest. They’re all major gifts!

Except… legacy gifts won’t usually fall from the sky unless you seed the clouds.

So let’s take a look at how to do that.

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Man and woman shaking hands

Are the Rich Motivated to Give Differently?

Wealthy donorProbably not as much as you might think.

Yet people tell me all the time how much they’re afraid to ask wealthy people for major gifts. If you share those fears, it’s time for a little “Charity Clairity:”

Contrary to what your gut may be telling you, NOT asking is not making would-be donors feel good. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In this article, I’ll cover why you must stop short-changing your would-be major donors by not offering them opportunities to be the change they want to see in the world.  Why you must stop robbing them of chances to feel good about themselves.

And we’ll explore how you can use six major donor triggers to make donors feel so good they’ll want to say “yes” to your solicitation.

Bottom line: When you don’t make donors feel good, they’ll go elsewhere.

The Rich Are Just Like You and Me (They Just Have More Money)

F. Scott Fitzgerald is famously supposed to have told Ernest Hemingway that “the rich are different than you and I.” “Yes, Scott,” Hemingway supposedly retorted. “They have more money.”

It’s good to remember that major donors are, first and foremost, just people.

Many of them actually don’t even feel “wealthy” (just as often so-called seniors don’t feel “old.”)  In fact, a survey of 4,000 investors by UBS found that 70% of people with investible assets of $1 million or more do NOT consider themselves “wealthy.”

What most donors share (no matter their net worth) is

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Treasure Map

Do You Want More Major Donors? Read This!

If you’re like most nonprofits, you probably wish you had more major donors.

Guess what?

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.”

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Giant gummy bear

The Giant Mid-Level Fundraising Opportunity Your Nonprofit’s Missing

Nonprofits pay a lot of attention to donor acquisition. Then?

They largely ignore these donors, unless…

They become worthy of attention by virtue of being ‘major’ donors. Then?

Nonprofits pay a lot of attention to major donor relationship building.

But between new donor acquisition and major donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship, what happens?

Usually not enough.

This is a BIG missed opportunity.

You’ve likely got great donor prospects hiding inside your own donor base, and you’re essentially treating them like, well, poop.

What if you were to begin to look at your mid-level donors as the transformational fundraising opportunity they are?

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FAQs in magnifying glass

How to Supercharge Your Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising Strategy: 10 FAQs

FAQs in magnifying glassIf I had to tell you what you need to do to succeed with major gift fundraising in one short paragraph it would be this:

Identify prospects. Qualify them so you know they want to build a deeper relationship with you. Cultivate them. Visit with them. Listen to them. Ask them for something specific that resonates with their passions. Steward their gift. Communicate the impact of their gift, more than once, to cement the relationship and make them feel like the hero they are.

It’s definitely not rocket science. It’s just not something most of us are taught.  Ultimately, success depends on doing the right things the right way. Once you know what is required, success comes from good old hard work. Satisfying and rewarding work. It’s a type of work anyone can learn to do. [If you want to learn, please sign up for the upcoming Certification Course for Major Gift Fundraisers that begins January 25th. It may be the most important investment you make all year. Just one major gift will more than cover the cost].

Over my 39 years in fundraising, 30 of them working in the trenches as a director of development for organizations with budgets ranging from $1 – $40 million, I have asked for a lot of major gifts.  I know what works, and what doesn’t work. Today I want to give you some of my best words of wisdom, and also answer some of the questions folks tend to ask me frequently.

I hope these tips will help you tweak your mindset and invigorate your systems so you can be more successful fundraising in the coming year!

Nonprofit Major Gift Fundraising Strategy: 10 FAQs

1. What is the board’s role in major gift fundraising?

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roaring lion

7 Things Nonprofit Major Gifts Programs Need to Succeed

Every nonprofit should have a major gifts program.

That’s where the lion’s share of the money is.

It’s a rare organization that has a mailing list large enough to raise a million dollars from a million different $1 donors. But most nonprofits do have major donor prospects hiding in plain sight.

It’s up to you to find them; then move them along a cultivation path that prepares them – and you – to make an ask that results in a win/win values-based exchange.

Let’s review 7 secrets that will guarantee your major gifts program is a success, whatever your size.

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Are you reading your major donors right?

Are You Reading Your Major Donors Correctly?

The more that you know, the less they’ll say ‘No!’

Such is the advice given by Jay Love, Founder of Bloomerang and a seasoned board member and major donor, some years ago at an online conference where we both presented major gifts master classes. His was on the topic of major gifts development from the donor’s perspective.

Do you think about your donor’s perspective before you ask for a major gift?

Here’s what I learned from Jay:

The more you know:

  • what floats your donor’s boat,,,
  • what other things compete for your donor’s attention (not just causes, but also career and family)…
  • how your donor prefers to communicate…
  • how your donor prefers to be wooed…
  • how your donor prefers to be recognized…

… the more likely you’ll get a “Yes.”

This advice is SO important I want to dig deeper into ways you can get inside your donor’s head and build the type of relationship that will be a win/win. When your donor gets what they want and need, you get what you want and need!

If you can’t show your major donor prospect you really know them, how can they trust you’ll be a good steward of their passionate philanthropic investment?

We all want to be known before we enter into a major engagement.

Which brings us to the crux of successful major donor development. Not surprisingly, it begins and ends with the same thing.

Can you guess what that might be?

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Street intersection signs

At the Intersection of Major and Planned Giving: Moving to Asset-Based Philanthropy

Most organizations, large or small, public or private, local or national, arrive at the intersection where major gifts and planned gifts cross, come into question, or even merge. Which road should they take? Should the major gift officer learn planned giving? Should the planned giving officer become a major gift officer? What business mo will…

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Skyrocketing

10 Strategies to Skyrocket Major Gift Fundraising

Skyrocketing“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” So wrote Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

It’s the same with major donor fundraising, except you don’t ever really stop.  You just start up again. You do follow a prescribed path, however.  And here’s what it looks like:

  1. Before
  2. Ground Floor
  3. Explore
  4. Back Door
  5. Adore
  6. Mentor
  7. Ask For
  8. Implore
  9. Rapport
  10. Report

If you do this correctly, it becomes a transformational process for the donor. They want to stay connected and engaged and invested.  Which is why you don’t stop.  You follow up with “Some More.”

But first…

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